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Fleur Noir

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Ysavvryl, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Actually, of Lost Woods-type places that I've been through in games, Winding Woods is on the easy side to get through. There's an NPC with a hint, but it's not really needed or helpful. Finding all the items does take some time, but that one cave in Sevii Islands was more frustrating because it sent you to the beginning room so often.
     
  2. Wha- huh? *Checks date* Damnit Ysa you confused me! I thought it was Friday for a minute!

    So. That's interesting. If they have Xerneas (Captured in a Pokeball rather than just uprooting the tree) they're probably going to try using the UW. If they don't have the key, they can't do that (And why hasn't AZ just dropped it in a volcano or something?) so what happens next is anyone's guess. Possibly the immortality cannon, possibly the death beam, possibly nothing. We'll have to wait and see.
     
  3. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Chapter 22: Challenge and Rebuttal

    On the first day of school, most of Calem's homeroom classmates were eager to talk to him about the apprenticeship. “A lot of it was knowing how to treat Pokemon well so you become friends with them and they want to help you,” he said. “Which is important for anyone, not just someone who has a mega ring.”

    “Everybody should be able to figure out that much,” Shauna said.

    “You’d think so, anyhow,” Trevor said. “But a lot of people don't give Pokemon the credit they deserve. I heard somebody try to call Merlin simple minded, but I know he could probably complete some of the homework I do, and he'd be smart enough to make sure that I finished myself and didn't try to use his work.” The Meowstic purred at that.

    At this point, Serena walked into the classroom. Along with the white school uniform, she was wearing a wide red hair ribbon that had a cluster of seven white flowers attached to it. Shauna jumped to her feet on seeing her. “Ah, Serena, you're here!”

    She smiled and said, “Of course I’m here, silly. What would make you think I wouldn’t?”

    Expecting her, Calem had brought Neo along with Korrina's blessing. But this time, the Lucario didn't immediately go towards her. He did bark softly and try to get her attention while staying near Calem's desk, but Serena didn't heed him as she sat in her usual place. “But we've been trying to call you like all summer,” Shauna said, going over to her. “Why’d you change your number, and go live off-campus this year, huh?”

    “Because I could,” Serena said.

    “But we wanted to help, especially when your dad turned up in a coma,” Teirno said. “Sorry about that.”

    She bit her lip. “Oh, well... he'll live, I’m sure.”

    That was it? Calem thought she would have had a stronger reaction to that at least. It seemed his friends thought the same, since they had an awkward moment when they glanced at each other, not sure what to say. Then another girl in the class said, “Hey, those are pretty flowers you have!”

    That made Serena smile. “Yeah, aren't they just darling? I want to keep them close.”

    “What are they? I haven't seen any like that?”

    “They’re miracle flowers,” she said. “They’re really special; it's hard enough to find one of them.”

    “That’s because they don't grow anywhere,” Mortan murmured on Calem's shoulder. “They only appear as gifts from Xerneas.”

    “Hey Serena,” Calem said, concerned about her. “We really need to talk, on several things.”

    She raised her eyebrows. “Oh? Well, later. I have something I want to talk to you about too.”

    The school bell rang, so Professor Sycamore got the class started. “Welcome back, everyone, to your first year as upperclassmen,” he said, grinning. “That’s a great feeling, isn't it? You have a lot more freedom this year, but a lot more responsibility too. I'm sure you all can handle it. Now, anything interesting go on this summer that you want to tell everyone about?” There were several hands in the air, but Sycamore went with his usual semi-random approach and picked, “Serena, you're first. What's going on with you?”

    Standing up for this, she pleasantly said, “I had several good things happen over the summer, but the thing I want to talk about isn't so good. The world's about to undergo an unprecedented catastrophe and if you don't choose wisely in the coming years, you could end up paying with your life.”

    The classroom was left in silence for a moment, as no one was sure if she was being serious.

    -+-

    Serena's proclamation at the start of classes was a sign of things to come. Team Flare got really aggressive in advertising its views, in particular about their prediction of catastrophe. Every time, they said the best decision to save yourself and those you cared about was to join them. And they still had that ridiculous five million dollar membership fee. According to them, that was fine as money would be worth nothing in face of the coming disaster.

    Back to the first day of our fifth year at LMA, Serena said she wanted to talk to me, but she joined her Flare Club friends for lunch. It wasn't until after classes that I got a chance to speak with her. Now every year, LMA would have a party for us at the end of first day classes. While a lot of them were fun for me and my friends, the only really important one to know for this story is the fifth year's party. That's when I finally got to talk to Serena, after trying to find her for half the summer.


    Many students were having fun at this year's party, dancing by the live band or playing games with each other. But it didn't seem that happy for their group, since Shauna was still upset. “I hope she didn't think I was an awful roomie,” she said, sounding dejected. “I made sure to keep my things neat too, most of the time.”

    “Hey, it seems like she did this without her parents knowing either, so I don't think it was you,” Teirno said.

    Spotting her nearby, Calem stood up from the flowerbed wall they'd been sitting on. “Well I have to talk with her anyhow, so I’ll see if I can get her to apologize to you,” he said. “Neo, you ready?”

    “Hmm,” the Lucario said, probably having second thoughts now. But he nodded and walked over with him. The other three soon followed, but they kept back to listen instead of joining just yet.

    “Oh Calem, here you are,” Serena said, smiling at him. “There’s something important we need to talk about.”

    “Yes, a few things,” he said seriously.

    “Hmm? Oh yeah, you said so before. What do you have in mind?” She tilted her head, although if she was trying to get him to go along with her, it wasn't working as well now.

    “Well first of all, you got those miracle flowers from Xerneas, didn't you?” he asked. The group from Serena's club were listening in too, so this got a number of them curious about how he knew that. Mortan had told him, as well as, “They have a divine power, mostly for healing but they can make just about anything happen. So why haven't you tried to use one on your father?”

    “How do you know I haven’t tried?” she asked, annoyed briefly.

    He wasn’t going to let her bluff her way out of this. “Because your mother told me that you never visited him once,” Calem said. “I spoke to her last night and she's upset about him and you.”

    Her ears turned pink. “Well... he'll be fine, I know it. And besides, the flowers can make anything happen, good or bad. So each of them needs careful consideration before trying anything.”

    Given they were made by Xerneas, he wasn't about to argue with that. “I suppose. And another thing; you know this Lucario?”

    “No,” she said. “I figured he was just another Pokemon of yours.”

    “Rrrr,” Neo growled softly, flicking his ears.

    Patting the Pokemon, Calem said, “Well you should. He's one of the two that's almost always hanging around Korrina. You know, Neo? The one who's been friendly and eager with you nearly every time you've met?” When she still drew a blank on the Lucario, he added, “The one you rejected at the Tower of Mastery?”

    “Rejected is an awful harsh term for turning down an offer,” Serena said. “Okay, fine, I kind of know him. But how am I supposed to pick him out from any other Lucario?”

    “Could you be less harsh in talking about Neo in front of him?” Calem asked. “He's been depressed ever since that day, but he's been trying to contact you anyhow because he has a message for you.”

    “From Korrina?”

    He shook his head. “No, Neo himself has something to tell you.”

    “That’s silly. How's he supposed to give a message if he can't talk?”

    Neo was growling again. “A Lucario can sense and manipulate aura to a degree, so they can pass on messages if the recipient is willing to listen,” Calem said. He couldn't lose his patience here and now, not with so many people around him. And watching them talk, but he was starting not to care how this would look to others. “I've gotten a few things from him just in working with him this summer, one of them being his message for you. He's had a vision, one where there's a great chance that you'll die before you turn nineteen. He's been trying for a few years now to become your friend and help protect you from that possibility. Although with how you're acting recently, it seems like he might decide not to go with that offer.”

    “I wouldn't take him anyhow,” Serena said. “Besides, how could a Lucario have a vision of the future like that? They've got the wrong aura types. I think that's pretty unlikely to happen.”

    For a moment, Calem was more worried about Neo than Serena. He had jumped off the tower last time she rejected him. Although, as Leo had later demonstrated in the Gym, falling great distances wasn't a big problem to them if they were near a wall to slow themselves down to a safe degree. Neo didn't run off this time, thankfully. Instead, he grabbed Calem's shirt and moved to just behind him, working to control his own temper.

    Since he didn't respond, Serena moved on to her own topic. “Well I’ve got something more definite to say. You and I were both chosen as potential apprentices back at the tower, but only you ended up with it. So I've had a great idea; why don't you and I become rivals? I want to find out if that training really made you any stronger and what you might have that I don't. After all, what better way is there of getting better than having someone to compete against?”

    That was what she thought was important to talk about? “No!” he shouted, glaring at her. She looked shocked at that, so he explained it. “I won't be your rival because a rival is someone you respect. And I can't respect you now.”

    “Wh-what?” she asked, caught in something she hadn't expected.

    “How am I supposed to respect someone who blows off the fact that her father has been in a coma for over a month?” Calem asked. “Or cut off everyone she knows without warning? Or makes Shauna upset... Shauna never gets upset for long over anything, but you've had her just about in tears because you moved out on your own without telling her anything! You even make Pokemon upset at what you do and you don't even care about them one bit. You keep focused on beating the Pokemon League, but I bet that you'll never even get on Victory Road by your own merit because at some point, your tactics aren't going to be able to do a thing and the last leaders will beat you every time.”

    “How do you know about that?” she asked in anger, then hurriedly tried to correct it by saying, “How can you think that? You're not a good judge because you've never beaten me, with no badges and just one easy proof.”

    Partly to calm himself down (really didn't need to lose his temper...), he recited something from the Tower of Mastery murals. “Overwhelming strength can only take you so far. If you do not care about your Pokemon, then they will not care about you. What will it matter to them if they're under your command or someone else's? They will be just as strong either way, so they will not feel the need to put forth more than minimal effort which will not bring about victory. If you do care about your Pokemon and show it to them often, they will care for you equally as much. Then they will always be at their best at your side, because they will put forth all their effort to bringing victory in honor of your friendship. That is the power of bonds and that is exactly where you failed to earn the apprenticeship.”

    “Bonds are a ridiculous excuse for those who have no talent,” Serena said, acting like he'd offended her. “Pokemon don't get stronger just because they like a particular person.”

    “It's not just Pokemon,” he said. “Neo noticed it too even though he hasn't been around you that much. The bonds you have with nearly everyone are deteriorating because you've grown a horribly rotten attitude towards everyone. That's going to end up ruining you more than anything as people realize you only connect to others just to make yourself look good. If you keep going like this, people are going to stop caring about you. I just about have because I’m fed up with what you've been doing. Go ahead and think about yourself, but that’s going to end up with you only seeing yourself because no one else will be there with you. Come on, Neo, let's go.”

    Neo barked in agreement and took his hand while they walked back to the flowerbed. Shauna, Teirno, and Trevor soon followed them over. Meanwhile, Serena stamped her foot in anger and went off with a few others.

    “Sorry about that, Shauna,” Calem said.

    “You don’t have to apologize,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest and seeming disappointed. “That was Serena's fault. Oo, I wish she'd stop being a jerk. I wanted to stay friends with her.”

    “We all did,” Trevor said.

    I had several other students come up to me later and say that Serena deserved that; I came out of there with more respect around school than she did. Her popularity around school rapidly declined because of our confrontation. At first, it didn't seem to matter. She stuck with her group of friends from the Flare Club and they all became more isolated from the rest of the student body. Even so, their numbers started to grow. It was the same with Team Flare itself. Their behaviors drove them away from others, but their numbers increased as they spread their warnings of an impending catastrophe.

    As for Neo, I offered to send him back to Korrina or to keep him with my team. I would have needed to rotate my battle team members around if I did. But he had his own ideas. Without using Mortan as a translator, he let me know that he wanted to work with the academy teachers who gave instruction on Pokemon battling and care. He would be a part of LMA's classes and in that way, he hoped to find the person he was really meant to be with. I wished him luck in that and let the teacher know of his wishes when I went to make the offer.


    -+-

    One nice thing about this year was that he knew that his school bills were paid off, so he didn't have to keep up the volunteer work. That was one less thing to juggle onto his schedule. Although, it was almost immediately replaced by the battle class he was taking, which required students to participate in a certain number of Pokemon battles every week and keep a battle log. He managed to keep up on it, so this Friday afternoon, he found himself with a few free hours while his friends were busy with other things. Calem decided to check on a couple of the places he used to volunteer for to see if they needed an extra hand for that time.

    He was about a block from campus when a voice shouted for him out of the crowd. “Ho, follower of shadows! State your intentions for being out in the open!”

    He turned and saw a familiar pair coming towards them. They had white uniforms like that of the LMA students, but they also had long flowing scarves (blue for the young man, and pink for the young woman) and masquerade masks that matched their scarves. But even with the masks, it was soon apparent who they were. “Oh, hey Dexio, Sina,” Calem said.

    “Who are you talking about?” Sina asked, a bit too dramatic for a simple question. “We know of no such people, as fabulous as their names are.”

    “That’s right,” Dexio said. “We are the Warriors of Love, Defenders of Kalos! I am the shining beacon of hope, Stellar Blue Harmonizer!”

    “And I am the joyful bringer of peace, Smoky Pink Melodia! We are here to keep the people of Lumiose safe from all evil! Huzzah!” Then they both made golden sparkles appear around them, a magic trick that he'd seen Shauna do before.

    These two were crazy. But, it looked like a fun sort of crazy. “Well all right then,” Calem said, nodding. “Good to meet you both.”

    “Good to meet you,” Sina first said cheerily, then stopped herself. “Hey, wait a minute! Don't you go tricking me, dark one! We're here to make sure you're not causing any trouble, not to be exchanging good days.”

    “Yeah, so what are you up to?” Dexio asked.

    “I was going to volunteer for a few hours at the soup kitchen if they needed the help,” he said. “You’d probably be going against your credo to keep me from that.”

    “That would, wouldn't it?” Sina said.

    “Unless you're using your volunteer work to cover up something more insidious,” Dexio said. “Which is entirely possible.”

    Very possible, Calem thought, if not in his case. “Hey, maybe I was born into darkness, but I’m not going to let it rule me. I'm not up to anything insidious today.”

    “Do you swear that you're honestly not?” Sina asked, striking a pose.

    “Yes, I swear it,” he said.

    They both grinned. “That’s good, but we must still work for the sake of justice,” Dexio said. “Which means, we should take in and guide you on the proper path of being a hero.”

    Sina nodded. “Yes, it's a difficult path to choose, but the benefits for everyone are great. Come on, you can join us on our patrol of the streets of Lumiose, to make sure all things are good and peaceful.”

    For a moment, Calem wondered if Sycamore had asked them to do this or if they decided on their own. They seemed to know some things that they couldn't learn easily. Besides, they probably wouldn't actually go out and run into trouble. “All right, thanks for your kindness,” he said. “What do I need to know?”

    “Well first you need a heroic name and a heroic costume,” Sina said, heading further down the sidewalk.. “But we don’t have time to get that together right now, so we'll figure out a name and let you follow us around. Come on.”

    “I have a costume,” Calems said, rubbing his neck where the ribbon was. “Sort of. But you'd lose track of me in the crowd unless you always keep your eyes on me. See?” He activated the cowl and started following them. Being in the street in the middle of the afternoon, the dark gray cowl was rather noticeable to sight.

    “It looks more villainous, but I suppose you'd be an anti-hero anyhow,” Dexio said. “It might work. How about we call you the Fading Black Rhythm?”

    “Noooo, he should be Light Bearing Dark,” Sina said. The two of them argued for a while about his hero name, while Calem dismissed the cowl and followed them around the Lumiose streets.

    They didn't really do much heroic other than talking about special (probably made-up) heroic spells and secret mystical techniques, like they were living in a superhero cartoon. When they got to South Boulevard, Calem noticed something odd. Some of the trees around Lumiose had flowers on them. He'd seen them flower before, but not in September.

    The two 'heroes' were soon paying attention to a young girl who was looking up into one of the flowering trees, trying to reach for a branch that was just out of her reach. “Careful there, sweetie pie,” Sina said. “Even at your petite size, I’m not sure if those branches can support you.”

    Shyly stepping back, the girl said, “Um, mmm, mmy my Espurr friend is stick in the tree, I um think. She, um, won't come down.”

    “Ah, then we'll help you get her down,” Dexio said. “For we are heroes, and helping others is what we do, in the name of love!”

    “Murr?” a questioning meow came from the tree. An Espurr was indeed up there, hanging close to the central trunk. The branch was bending a little under her weight, as this wasn't that big of a tree. Still, the Pokemon was just out of reach of all of them.

    “Um, okay?” the girl said, uncertain.

    “We could cast a soft cyclone to whisk her off and safely to the ground,” Dexio said.

    “That would wreck the tree, which is against our policy,” Sina said, putting a hand on her hip. “Harming the environment is for villains. We'll use telekinesis to pick her up.”

    “But you're not very good at that.”

    Meanwhile, Calem took off his backpack to open it up. He'd been participating in Pokemon battles earlier and someone in the club suggested getting fresh galettes from a place on North Boulevard to help Pokemon recover after battle. They made small ones suitable for many Pokemon and Calem had bought a dozen that morning. Finding the box, he took one out and held it up in the tree. “Hey, I’ll give you a treat if you come down.”

    “Mew,” the Espurr said, reaching out with a paw. But the branch shifted and she went back to clinging to the trunk, not feeling secure.

    Then Yorick appeared out of his Pokeball. The Gengar easily passed through the branches. “Gehehe.”

    “Be nice,” Calem warned him.

    Yorick chuckled, making the Espurr's gray fur fluff out more than usual. But he did pick her off the trunk gently and carried her past the branches to put her down. After giving him a wary look, the Espurr went back to the girl. “Mya!”

    “You’re down!” the girl said, hugging her Pokemon.

    Smiling, Calem rubbed Yorick's head. “Good, that's more of what you should be doing.” He took out two more galettes and gave one to Yorick as a reward. Then he offer the other two to the girl and her Espurr. “Here, go ahead and have them. I have plenty.” Not anymore, but he would buy some more tomorrow anyhow, so there were fresh ones for the battles then.

    “Thank you, sir,” the girl said, taking them. “You guys are weird, but you're nice.”

    “Emma!” an old woman called. “Come back inside!”

    “Coming, Nana!” she called back. “Um, bye.” She hurried off back home with her Espurr following right behind her.

    “Haha, well those ways work well too,” Sina said.

    “Oh, but he must be a hero already if he has heroic Pokemon,” Dexio said. “Like Pokemon, like Trainer. Keep up the good deeds, Weathered Raven.”

    “No, he's Shadow of Divine!” Sina insisted.

    “Don’t you guys think it's odd that the trees are blooming?” Calem asked. He hadn't yet decided what hero name he wanted and they'd probably keep at it for another ten minutes if he let them.

    “Hmm?” Sina said, then looked at the tree. “I don't know much about trees, but it is odd to see in autumn.”

    “My gran...” Dexio started to say, then coughed and corrected himself. “My master in hero-ing said that if certain trees bloomed twice in one year, then it was an omen of bad times to come. Hah, then it's good we found another Defender of Kalos! We might need all the help we can get!”

    “Let's go find out if these are the bad omen ones!” Sina said, then the two of them rushed down the street.

    “Eh, I've been chasing them around for a couple of hours,” Calem said. “Let’s go find a cafe for some coffee to go with the last couple of galettes I have, since I haven't tried them yet.”

    The nearest cafe was one he hadn't tried before, Cafe Soliel. It was a very popular one. Whenever he'd checked it out before, it had always been packed. It was busy now as well, but there were a few seats left. As long as he didn't have his whole team out, he should be fine getting a place to sit for a short time. He bought a cup of their house blend to try.

    While looking around the room for a spot to sit, Calem spotted an empty seat near someone familiar. Diantha again; she was talking with a pair of men he didn't recognize. Might as well try. He went over and said, “Hello, funny running into you in here.”

    She looked up at him, then burst into laughter. “Ah, Calem! Yes, it is very funny that you should arrive just now. Come on, sit down, this should be good. Guys, this is a student from LMA, as you can see, Calem; he's Miss Roselia's great-grandson. Calem, this is a director I'm working for, Kevin Lensin, and a fellow actor, Jack Neilson.”

    “That is quite a coincidence,” Kevin said, smiling. “We were discussing about the movie about Miss Roselia.”

    “Oh yeah, how is that coming along?” Calem asked, happy to sit at the table with them if they were going to talk about his Gran. Yorick put a paw on the table and looked over them. Hopefully he'd stay put knowing that Calem had more galettes.

    “We’re hoping to finally get around to filming it this fall,” Kevin said. “There’s been two aborted attempts so far, and other delays. I'm just glad you decided to stick with the project, Di.”

    Diantha nodded. “Of course, I really want to see it get done too. See, Calem, we've had some trouble finalizing the script. The story is meant to be about Miss Roselia and the way she put an end to the rain assassin's time of terror. But the crew's split in half because it's unclear how she got him captured. Some think it was in a Pokemon battle, which I don’t think is like her. Others want to make it into a half romance because they think she talked him into giving up.”

    “But then that would be uncharacteristic of what we know of the assassin,” Jack said. “It would make for a good movie, though. Mix some romance into the action and intrigue.”

    “Well if we can't prove either case, I’d rather go with what would make the better movie,” Kevin said.

    That was easy to answer, although it made him wonder if he should reveal that. Heinrich had been worried about Beatrice's reputation... but then, it was long after the Great War. And just maybe, if the story got out there through a good movie, people might accept it easier. “What if I told you that I have the love letters to prove that he's my great-grandfather?” he asked.

    Jack raised an eyebrow while Kevin sat up in surprise. And Diantha squealed in delight. “Wow, really? That's amazing! So were they both in love?”

    He nodded. “From what I can tell, yes. She actually went and visited him on the day he was executed, so I have all the letters between them. Although, they were both worried about others finding out about them, especially making her look bad. But see, his powers, and mine for that matter, are the result of a curse and she helped to free him from it in the last part of his life. I think if that version got out, then people might appreciate them better. Plus he kept Yveltal from awakening during the war, so that would be good too.”

    “That would make for a great addition,” Kevin said, looking thoughtful. “We’re definitely doing this to honor Miss Roselia's memory, but it could be interesting to honor him as well.”

    “What powers did he have?” Jack asked. “I was mostly going to work from rumors and a handful of witness accounts; he's very much an enigma.”

    He didn't feel much resistance from the Asari, but he knew they were there. “You should probably talk to Professor Sycamore about that. He can explain why I can't. Just let him know that I gave you permission to know about it. Oh, and there's three items associated with us, just so you know.” He brought his left foot into his lap so he could reveal the anklet. “This is one, and then there's a cowl that I’m wearing, just in its choker form. There's also a dagger, but I haven't gone to retrieve it yet.”

    So yes, the movie was accurate to some degree because they had help from me on the final script. I know there's a number of people who think the romance part of that movie was made up for screen drama, and I have tried to correct them many times. Fortunately, it seems that most people still think positively on Gran, so I’m grateful for that. I never want to dishonor her.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014
  4. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Yeah, I confused myself too last week, haha. Too much stuff I was trying to get done. Anyhow...

    One thing about the X/Y games is that they gave you so many friend-type characters that it's almost too much. Yet they missed what could have been the most interesting friend and gradual character development in AZ. if I had to redo the story, or even Fleur Noir itself, I think I would've turned AZ into a three thousand year old teenager and somehow roped him into being one of the Pokedex holders. Change all the tutorial sequences into stuff you had to teach him without knowing who he really was yet, then made sure one of his Pokémon was a happiness-evolving type so there could be some talk about how humans and Pokémon interact. That would've been cool.

    On the other hand... Sina and Dexio are very amusing with their all too obvious superhero alter egos, especially when they're introduced as your seniors in Pokedex adventuring. I had to take that idea and run with it.

    Also, the idea of a rival as Calem puts it is something that's developed over the series. Blue's not quite there, Silver seems to think of you in that way towards the end, but then I think Wally really starts this idea since you help him get his first Pokémon. It's something I really like from Pokémon, the idea that you can compete against someone yet still fully respect them and be friends.
     
  5. Yeah, she totally deserved that. Xerneas is probably awake (Or fuelling the UW) and Neo is looking for someone who's not as caustic as Serena is.

    I think the main problem with the XY rival types is they aren't used enough. Tierno and Shauna especially- Tierno is the first and last person we've seen who aspires to become a dancer, (Though this could have been relegated to a side character rather than one of the main rivals) and Shauna is likewise the only person we've seen to care more about the journey itself than the goal at the end. This is especially noticeable as Shauna pops up quite a lot early on, and like the Mega Evolution sidequest is dropped, only making a few appearances afterwards. Granted, one of them is incredibly helpful for a rival character but the sudden drop in appearance rate is still annoying.

    It's like the Mega Evolution sidequest. It gets thrown up a lot early on, you reach the ToM after the third Gym and then you barely ever hear about it again. It would have been better if they drew that out for longer, as you did here.

    XY had a pretty good story (Not quite at BW level but better than BW2) but it did have it's flaws. Hopefully the third version will fix that. It usually does.


    (Also, AZ's Pokemon are all long-lived ones so he doesn't have to keep replacing them. There aren't any that both fit that and have happiness-based evolution that I know of)
     
  6. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Chapter 23: Miracle Flowers

    For our fifth year homeroom project, Sycamore had us designing some scientific experiments for the Pokemon specific minerals like Pinsirite. That gave me an excuse to find a Gengarite and a Mawilite for my two other Pokemon that we knew could mega evolve. The first one came up quick; I found someone online selling an amulet made with Gengarite, so I went to buy it in Laverre one weekend. Mawilite was not so easy. In November, our class went out on a camping trip to some mines in the northeastern mountains where such minerals were often found.

    We soon found out that these mountains were special in another way.


    One of the locals gave them a lecture on safety in the mines. Much of it seemed common sense, although telling when a wall might collapse in time to get away might be tough. Calem figured he could get by with his senses, although it was reassuring to know that the experienced miners would be in there with them, just in case. But the last part of his lecture was surprising. “Now I'm sure you've noticed the yellow tape blocking off one of the entrances; there's a few others tunnels also taped off inside. Don't be going down those tunnels because last week, somebody came across the resting place of Yveltal in here.”

    “Wow, there's a god asleep in here?” Shauna asked, amazed.

    The miner nodded. “And we'll be wanting to keep him asleep, so a bunch of us are going to spend next week sealing up his area so nobody else gets in. Keep away from him, or you might awaken him and end up as the one who brings death to half the region. Besides, we're pretty sure he doesn't want to be disturbed either.”

    As interesting as it might have been to see a god, the students agreed that this one shouldn't be disturbed. They stuck to the tunnels they were brought into, searching mostly for the Pokemon minerals but sometimes taking a few other interesting rocks they came across. Calem brought Starlet out and had her helping him. Since Nibbles had picked out her stone, he figured the best way to get the right mineral was to have the Mawile look at the rocks.

    Calem pried out one rock that was blue-gray, after several minutes of carefully picking it out. He could feel it was the right kind of mineral, but not which Pokemon it would be linked to. So he held it out for Starlet to see. “What about this one?”

    She sniffed at it, then made a face of disgust. Not Mawilite. Calem took it over to the bin where they were keeping the Pokemon minerals to study in class later on. As he started to head back to where Starlet was still cracking rocks, Sycamore stopped him. “Hey, did you see where Serena went? I've got everyone accounted for except for her.”

    “She’s further down the tunnel, around a bend,” he said.

    “I see. Would you go check on her? Let her know that she should come back over here and tell me how the digging's going.”

    He didn't really want to go talk to her on his own, but if it was just a quick message... “All right,” Calem said.

    “I'll go with you,” Shauna said.

    “Go where?” Tierno asked.

    “Going to talk to Serena further down the tunnel,” Calem said.

    As it ended up, Tierno and Trevor followed along too. She wasn't very far down the side tunnel and it wasn't one of the blocked off ones. Still, she was leaning on the wall by herself, with none of her Pokemon out and just a single lantern. She wasn't digging or looking for rocks. Rather, she seemed to be thinking by herself. Maybe even sad? It was hard to tell in the light.

    “Serena!” Shauna called out cheerily. “What have you been up to? You're gonna get a zero for the day if you keep hiding.”

    “It won't matter,” she said, although not in her usual haughty tone.

    “Yes it does,” Shauna said. “Who’ll fight with Trevor over who has the highest grade if you don't work?”

    “I’m not gonna fight anyone for it,” Trevor said.

    “Well you're so close to each other every year that it's like that,” Tierno said, to which Trevor shrugged.

    “Professor Sycamore wants you to report in on your progress so far today,” Calem said. “He sounded worried about you.”

    “It won't really matter,” she repeated. “All of you are missing the big picture; something terrible is going to happen and you need to focus on how to save yourselves.”

    “What kind of disaster do you think is coming?” Calem asked. “Flare's not been terribly clear on what they'd talking about.”

    “How can it be any clearer?” she said, now pacing around. “Our world... the powers that rule it are constantly shifting to keep it in balance. But lately, human development has thrown things well out of balance in ways that apparently weren't anticipated. The old system doesn't work anymore and it's going to completely fall apart. There's more and more humans and Pokemon in the world, but increases in food and space can't keep up with the progress. Soon, the old gods might decide to cut down on everything to get the world back in the shape it should be. Or we might even do something that will cause the world to break down into ugliness and anarchy. And that turning point is fast approaching.”

    “I've heard about that,” Shauna said. “But I don't think it's going to happen that soon. People are smart, so we'll figure things out before it gets too bad.”

    “But what's going to be done about it is,” she paused, not sure about continuing.

    “Whatever it is, it's not going to do anyone good to give up on everything else,” Calem said. “It might not be something that can be solved easily, but we've got responsibilities right now to keep doing well in school. Besides, if you graduate with honors, people would be more willing to listen to you.”

    “Well what if there's not even that much time?” Serena asked. “What then?”

    “Is this about Neo's vision?” he asked, surprised that she remembered after turning the Pokemon down again.

    She shook her head, but then thought about it. “Well no... although, there's something about this place that reminded me of it. Like it might be real. But that's, I’ve never heard of Lucario reading the future. Gardevoir, sure, maybe Noctowl and some others. I should be safe, since I'm with Flare.”

    “I don't know about that,” Trevor said, surprising the rest of them. He blushed when they turned to him, then looked over at Merlin. “Well, uh, it's just... Merlin actually talked to Neo in class that day, so I heard about it too, from him. You guys didn't really talk about it, but, um...” he rubbed his head.

    “There was another part to it,” Calem said when Trevor was having trouble being the center of attention. “Part of the reason Neo wanted to go with you was that he sensed, over the years he's been trying to contact you, that your bonds with everyone have been weakening except for the one most likely to kill you. And your father didn't trust Lysandre either. That was the reason he went to Winding Woods after you; he was worried about what you were getting into with Flare. I think he made contact with Xerneas too, but now Xerneas is missing. What do you know about that?”

    “How do you know about any of that?” Serena asked, confused.

    “I talked with your dad before he got in trouble. As for Xerneas, well, it's some of my other friends that have told me that they sensed him awake, but then he vanished as suddenly as he came.”

    “You do have some friends who can find out about the strangest stuff,” Tierno said. “Like about your family. But how do they know?”

    Calem didn’t really want to tell them everything, like about Mortan. But maybe something to satisfy their curiosity for the time being. “Yes, but I can’t really introduce you to the one who really helped me out. From my enhanced senses, I was able to find the wandering king.”

    “You know AZ?” Serena asked, shocked to hear that.

    “Wow, you really can make friends with just about anybody,” Trevor said. “My mother says she saw him once, but like most people, she couldn’t get him to talk with her and didn’t see him again.”

    Calem shrugged. “Well when you can sense aura, he’s hard to miss with all the history following him. And I know I got lucky to start talking with him. From what I can tell, he’s not that bad now even if he made a terrible mistake long ago. And he is worried about Xerneas going missing.”

    After Serena didn't say anything for a moment, Shauna said, “What is going on with you, Serena? We've all been worried about you this year.”

    After a sigh, Serena said, “We were going to awaken Xerneas to help people realize how troubling things are. And that was it, from what I knew. He’s supposed to be awake but free to roam around; we were sure that he’d be troubled by the same thing and make it more obvious to others. Then I overheard some things, and well... I don't know what happened to Xerneas after I met him, since he told me to leave the forest. I didn't run into my father and I was told that he was okay, but then I heard things from others... is he really in a coma?”

    “Yeah, it’s pretty bad,” Shauna said. “I visited him for a bit but it's like he's asleep and can't wake up.”

    “I visited him too, and have talked with your mother a few times,” Calem said. “They really are worried about you, more sad than angry that you haven't spoken with them.”

    “Well if they had showed that concern earlier,” Serena said, then stopped herself. “I missed them a bit, but, um... it shouldn't matter, but then... you guys should really join Team Flare. That's the only way to be sure that you're safe and have a future. But then I don't know...” She frowned, trying to work through this in her mind.

    “I'd rather not because they've been mean to Calem,” Tierno said. “And because they don't seem to care about what happens to anyone else as long as they're safe and happy, whatever they mean by that.”

    That puzzled her. “How’re they being mean? Lysandre’s been supporting him in going to our school.”

    “Yes, but they haven’t let up on pressuring me over what happened in Geosenge when we were there,” Calem said. “They weren’t going to let me go with just a polite refusal on my part, especially on something about Yveltal. And like I said, I know AZ and through him, I’ve noticed that they seem to be looking for the ultimate machine he made. That and Xerneas being gone are troubling signs.”

    “I thought it was going to be someone else, but, uh,” Serena sounded uneasy, glancing around. “I guess I should look into some things, although I did promise something else. Though, it's surprising you guys would still be worried about me, after just about everyone else in school seems to be ignoring me now.”

    That was a result of their argument at the back to school party, Calem thought. Still, he said, “Of course we're worried about you. We're your friends. And, I am sorry for lashing out at you like that back then, but I just really wanted you to see what you were missing and was frustrated when you didn’t seem to get it.”

    “Yeah, we’ll still be friends if you want us!” Shauna said, bouncing in place. “I mean, sounds like you're going through something tough, but we're here to help you get out if you need it. Just, maybe not joining Flare, because anyone who wants to stop a danger needs to think of everybody, not just a few.”

    “Yes, there's usually another solution to a problem that big,” Trevor said. “Don’t let them fool you into believing just one view; we need to consider many views to really know something.”

    “We'll stick up for you, no matter who's causing you trouble,” Tierno said. “Just don’t forget to listen to people and think about how they feel too.”

    “You guys are too good,” Serena said, ashamed and looking away. “All right, just... tomorrow, I’ll go visit dad. And, um, here.” She took the clip of flowers off her hairband; even though she'd been wearing it since school started this year, the flowers hadn't wilted a bit. She took one and gave it to Calem. “You guys take some of these.”

    “Thanks,” Calem said, although he wasn't sure what to do with it. Maybe she'd give one to her father tomorrow.

    “Wow, yeah,” Shauna said, taking hers. “They’re miracle flowers, right? What do they do?”

    “They make miracles happen,” Serena said, giving one to Tierno. “Past that, I'm not sure how to trigger them or what they'd do. But you can tell they're powerful, right?” She gave one to Trevor.

    “They are,” Trevor said, but then the one in his hand gave off a bright glow and exploded into more petals than it had. He yelped and stumbled back, nearly tripping had Merlin not caught his hand.

    “You okay?” Shauna asked, turning to him.

    “Yeah, it just surprised me,” Trevor said, getting his footing back. “What is it, Merlin?”

    “Myaaaa,” the Meowstic said, pricking his ears forward.

    “It changed your aura,” Calem said, moving closer to him. “Hey, look me in the eyes.” When Trevor nodded and did so, Calem could see it easier. “That changed your aura instability into something else.”

    “Wow, you're cured!” Shauna said, jumping in place. “It is a miracle!”

    “Yeah, but what did it change into?” Trevor asked, worried but amazed that it had gone so simply.

    “Something to do with flowers,” Calem said. “Try casting a spell.”

    “All right,” he said, grinning. He cast a light spell, which should have simply lit up the area. The orb it produced did so, as well as caused a trio of daisies to tumble down. “Oh, so it makes flowers appear every time I use magic?”

    “Looks that way,” Calem said.

    “Wow, I wish I could do that,” Shauna said. “You could make an awesome hero like that!”

    “Or a really good florist, I guess,” Tierno said.

    “It’ll be a lot easier to deal with then potentially making things explode any time I cast,” Trevor said. “Thanks Serena! Wow, I can't wait to show my parents this.”

    “I'm glad it could help,” Serena said, smiling. She agreed to go back with them then, but remained worried through the day.

    But she'd given her word that she'd visit her father at least. That should be enough to change her mind.

    And Starlet had managed to find a Mawilite while I was talking with Serena, so it looked like things were going well. However, it was some time before I got an amulet made for Starlet too. Several things happened later that day and they weren’t all good.

    -+-

    The train station was a quiet place that evening. He could hear a faint roar from the waterfalls nearby. If he looked out from the open station, there was a great view of them from this elevated portion of town. The setting sun caused the misty air to take an orange hue, close to the red color of the sky. It seemed an ominous kind of thing, even if it was just a trick of the weather.

    He heard footsteps from someone else coming up the stairs. To his surprise, it was Serena. “Oh, there you are,” she said, smiling. “What are you doing here?”

    “Catching the next train back to Lumiose,” he said. “I’m not spending the night here.”

    “Why not? I was thinking of talking to you guys by the waterfalls, since it's nice over there.”

    He shook his head. “I can't stay. Although, you haven't heard about it.”

    “What about?” she asked.

    Since she seemed genuinely interested, he said, “You remember the night we spent in Parfum Palace last year, and how I went home early too? Professor Sycamore had to use Fly to get me back to school, so we decided not to risk it this time. There's a curse on my family which can turn us into faceless monsters if we kill anyone and there's a few of my ancestors who will go to great lengths to turn us crazy so we join them. When I’m at the school, the magic there interferes enough that no one's in danger. But out here, there's nothing to stop them from trying to overtake me when I'm asleep.”

    “Are you joking?” she asked. When he shook his head, she put her hand to her cheek. “Oh, well... I guess it is better that you go back. Sounds terrible though.”

    Calem shrugged. “At first, but I’m working out how to get out of their control. As long as I keep control of myself and don’t kill, then I’m fine. And if I work against their agenda by doing good things, they have a harder time controlling me. Until I’m sure of myself, though, I'm going to keep staying at places like school and the Tower of Mastery so others are safe from me.”

    “The miracle flower might be able to counter that; it undid Trevor's problem.”

    “I don't know if it will or not,” he said, touching the flower where it was in his jacket pocket. “But like you said, there's no control over what it does. I'll try keeping it on me, just in case.”

    “I hope it does work,” she said.

    “Lysandre knows about it, although I’m not sure how much he knows,” Calem said. “I am worried if he’ll try to blackmail me with that. Or worse, if he finds the method they used to control my great-grandfather during the Great War. I don’t if it would work on me while I’m unmarked, but if it does, then all my efforts will be for nothing.”

    “I don’t think he’d do that, at least, he shouldn’t,” Serena said.

    “Why do you trust him so much?” he asked. “I’m just wondering; he’s made me nervous ever since I first met him.”

    There was a loud cry from a Pokemon around the waterfall that distracted them briefly, but it seemed to be someone on the deck playing with a Gyarados in the pool at the waterfall’s base. It was a bit amusing even to see this little bit of, as a young man was hurling balls up to the top of the waterfall for the Gyarados to retrieve. After smiling briefly, Serena answered him with, “Well it’s mostly because he seemed to understand how I felt, about a lot of things.”

    “Like what?” The train seemed to be late, but he didn’t mind that much now that someone was here to talk with him.

    “Like with your family being so busy with their own lives that you practically raise yourself after a certain age,” she said. “Even before I started at the academy, there were months where I hardly saw my parents.”

    “I thought your mother quit her career as a Rhyhorn racer after you were born,” Calem said. There had been quite a deal a few years back when she returned; it had been all over the television networks for a few days.

    Serena shook her head. “Well she quit that, but not everything else she was doing. When I was a little kid, she’d dress me up and drag me off to charity events all over the world. Sometimes it was fun, but I always had to be on my best behavior and couldn’t be loud or running around. And I remember her being on the phone a lot or having her friends over, leaving me to the Chateau staff who expected me to be properly behaved as a young lady. Really, it’s like they expect descendants of royalty or nobility to be born with perfect manners and there’s a lot of pressure to come up to everyone’s expectations. Lysandre understood me because he went through the same kind of thing when he was a kid. You come under a lot of critical observation being put on a pedestal just because of your heritage.”

    “Well you don’t have to stay on the pedestal if you don’t want to,” Calem said. “Find out who you really want to be rather than trying to keep up with what others want you to be.”

    “It’s not that easy,” she said, nearly sighing. “Sometimes I don’t mind it and I’m sure I could find my own way at any rate. But in the next five years or so, well,” she rubbed her head.

    “What about the next five years?” he asked, hoping that she would keep talking. And that the train would stay a few minutes late, just in case.

    “Lysandre wants to put his plan into action in the next five years,” she said. “It is drastic, but he says that such drastic actions must be taken before the problems in the world become lasting disasters.”

    “Lasting?”

    She nodded. “Haven’t you noticed? The world’s been put into danger many times over history. Even since the Great War, when people all talk about peace and want to avoid conflict. There were rumors that the worldwide Rocket organization was going to set off new wars to claim power, and there’s always rumors that they’re building themselves back up again. And more certainly, there’ve been other groups who’ve tried to ruin the world for crazed ideals, even harnessing the powers of the gods to do so. Something’s gravely wrong in the world that not even stopping those madmen will keep it from a lasting global disaster, and Lysandre wants to address that problem directly.”

    “With AZ’s machine?” Calem asked. Because that solution seemed as bad as those problems.

    “He hasn’t mentioned anything like that, to me at least,” Serena said. But it seemed she had her doubts too. “But… well now I’m not sure if he is being straight with me. I suppose it depends on my father’s condition, and what’s going on with Xerneas.” She bit her lip, then looked right at him. “Was he really worried about Lysandre’s influence on me?”

    Calem nodded. “Right, he wasn’t sure how to interpret his interest in you, what with the gifts and visiting.”

    “It’s not like that,” Serena insisted. “He said that I was important to him because I had a good chance at speaking with the gods if I found them, and he wanted the gods to help convince people that there is a crisis in the world even as it seems peaceful. Geez…”

    “Well he’s your father, so he’s going to worry about that kind of thing,” he said.

    “I guess, but he could be as bad as Mom sometimes with being away. While I do appreciate the amount of effort it took for him to win both Championship titles, it meant that he was away from home a lot. And even when he was at home, eventually home came to be the Chateau more than our home in Vaniville and I wasn’t allowed to be around the battle rooms until I had a Pokemon of my own. Plus, for the longest time it seemed like the only reason anybody knew me was because I was his daughter. Everybody would talk about what he was doing, not what I was trying to accomplish. By the time I was ten, I was already sick of that.”

    “My Dad was gone a lot for being a Pokemon battler too,” Calem said. “Only, he lost just about as often as he won, so he wasn’t well known. But he eventually realized that he was leaving me and Mom out too often. I think your father’s starting to realize that too, or maybe even has, based on what little I’ve talked to him.” And Calem was starting to realize that it may have been how his father had dealt with their family curse. Had his Pokemon restrained him as well? His father did have a surpassingly nice Scizor, but maybe even he had used his power to counter his Trainer.

    “Maybe.” The train whistled as it came into the station from the east, so there wasn’t much longer to talk. “I guess I’ll ask him, if he’s up to it,” she said.

    “Right, you should talk to a lot of people to help figure things out,” he suggested. “And bonds aren’t just an excuse. I can deal with my curse because I know a lot of people are hoping for me to beat it. Even my Pokemon watch my moods and keep me in line if they must.”

    “You have your own pedestal that you can’t get off easily because of who you are,” Serena said.

    Calem smiled. “I guess so, but it’s not a nice place to be. Well, you all be sure to keep warm, what with the first frost predictions for this part of Kalos.”

    “We’ve got cabins that seem nice and warm so far. I hope your night is peaceful.”

    “That’s what I hope for every night now.” Once the few people getting off here were off the platform, he said goodbye to her and boarded the train back for Lumiose. And maybe someday, he could feel safe going back on camping trips with his friends.

    -+-

    Calem felt groggy. Others seemed to be moving around him like shadows. Luckily his mind recalled that night at Parfum Palace, so he was wary. This might be his ancestors clouding his senses and making him think this was a dream. Or was it a dream? Whatever it was, he needed to be careful. Don't do anything rash...

    Passing through some tunnels, he came to a large cavern of the mines they'd been in today. They hadn't been in this room, full of many slopes and pathways, even a wooden bridge. He was sure of that because he felt Yveltal's presence strongly. By the lights in here, he could see a blackened part of the rock wall that resembled a cocoon. One might have thought it was just a mineral vein looking at it. On the floor, though, Yveltal had left scorch marks of his name in Unown letters. That was probably the warning he had given the miners who nearly unearthed him.

    There were people here. Calem wondered why he was dreaming this, or why he might have been brought here as a shadowy witness to what these four were doing. As he thought it, the scene became clearer: it was Lysandre, with Mable, another Flare scientist, and Serena. Were they here to...? “Don’t awaken him,” Calem said, although his voice escaped him.

    They were in front of the cocoon. Serena seemed hesitant, but whatever Lysandre was telling her convinced her to go ahead. Taking the flower clip off her headband again, she took one of the remaining three flowers and held it out to the cocoon. The flower began to glow and held its place in the air even when she let it go. But it didn't explode like the other had. Yveltal stirred, causing a slight tremor in the area in resisting.

    “Leave him be,” Calem said, trying to go over and take the flower. But his hand passed right through it as if he was only a ghost.

    Serena remained there, looking at the wall behind the flower. Lysandre moved behind her, his words at the brink of hearing for Calem. “He normally awakens when the power of death and darkness is strong in Kalos. While it pains me to bring anything so painful into our beautiful land, sometimes having the power to reap the sinners is needed to bring about the brightest future. I hoped an object of his counterbalance would be enough, but we may need to bring the power of death to be strong in this place alone.” And with that, he took a dagger and stabbed Serena in the back.

    “Serena!” Calem called, trying to get over there. This had to be a dream. At least, he hoped it was only a dream. Otherwise, there was something in him that was certain that attack was intentionally fatal.

    Yveltal grew angry and burst out of the wall, his red eyes filled with fury over sacrifice. But instead of being worried about the god, the other scientist turned... and looked right at him. “Someone's interfering,” she said, casting him out.

    It hit him painfully in the chest, causing him to wake up and sit up in his bed, in his dorm room. Because of his curse, he had come back early. But they hadn't locked him in tonight. Nearby, Mortan was wide awake too, seeming frantic as he came over. “Something’s happening to Yveltal now!”

    “I know,” Calem said, getting out of bed and leaving the room. He didn't even think to grab his shoes or a coat until he got outside and heard a distant cry from Yveltal. But he didn't care about the cold at the moment. Activating his cloak, he used swiftstep to get through the city to the railroad and followed that all the way back to Couriway in a matter of minutes.

    He ended up at the cabins where his classmates were spending the night. While he wasn't sure how far the call had carried, those here just outside the mines had heard it. They were awake and confused, some even scared while they had gathered outside. Sycamore must have been up late working, since he still had the day's clothes on. “Hold on, we're not sure what's going on, but we can't panic. Has anyone seen Serena?”

    Feeling a touch of alarm, Calem noticed that she was the one student in their homeroom missing, aside from himself since he left early. “They awoke Yveltal,” he said, startling Tierno who was nearest to him.

    His other classmates, who hadn't seen him in the cowl before, stared at him for suddenly being there. “Calem, how...?” Sycamore asked, then realized what he must have done. “I see. I'm not sure what all we could do about it.”

    “I think they killed Serena,” he said, then warped away to the cavern he had seen in his dream. The tape shutting off the cave was cut through and the room wasn't far past it. Over on the far side of the cavern, there was a huge mess of rocks and dust spread out from a hole punched through the wall. Then that was true, and...

    Serena was dead, lying there with one of the miracle flowers left in her hair and petals from another strewn nearby. There was a dagger left in her back. However, no one else was there. Not even Yveltal. It made his heart seem to stop dead for a moment.

    Then he was so furious that his vision started to turn red. It had to be true, Lysandre somehow got Serena to go ahead and call on Yveltal only for him to kill her to make sure the god awoke. But his vision only got like this when the Asari were pushing him and this hate was powerful. But was it his own or theirs? Either way, when he heard someone else come into the cavern and call out (maybe his name), he had simultaneous thoughts to kill that person or get out of here so he didn't. The latter won out and he warped back out, barely passing by Professor Sycamore who had come in with another of his classmates that was in Battle Club.

    Either things had changed out here or his perception of them had. This had been a nice quiet location before, with abandoned rails and colorful autumn leaves. Now it seemed nightmarish, with shifting shadows and cruel intentions. Calem didn't care to find out if he was still dreaming or not and fled the area. He wasn't even sure where he was going. Just going... find Lysandre and kill him.

    This time, he couldn't tell if that was his own thought or not. But it was tempting. After she'd nearly turned around...
     
  7. ...Huh. Well, that's a thing. Not a good thing, but still a thing.

    Need to see what happens next really.

    (Also, how fast did Calem move? That looked like he made it from Lumiose to the caves faster than the train, and I'm assuming that the trains are the same kind of hypertech trains that Kanto and Johto have)
     
  8. 493pkmns

    493pkmns secret suicune

    Well hello there. I've just been reading a few days, but this has ensnared me. Often when I go to review something, I say that I'll review the next chapter that's posted, but then it takes a while and then I forget. Well not this time! So here's my first review. I've noticed similar errors in previous chapters, usually no more than three or four per chapter. Just small things. Typos, really.


    Here you seem to have forgotten 'like'

    Very interesting. The resources of our planet becoming too meager to support the growing population seems to be a recurring theme at the moment, all across our entertainment.

    Hmm, I feel like the bolded 'from' should be a 'using'. But that might just be a style choice.

    Comma after the 'well'? I'm pretty sure about that one. And I think, unless Calem actually speaks that way, the 'he is' could be contracted to just 'he's'.

    Here too a contraction would feel more natural to me, at the beginning there, the 'What is'.

    Hmm... Last time they spoke she seemed to be aware of his coma, though she also seemed to think that he would be okay. What's changed that she simply couldn't retain that information. I'm thinking some kind of mental manipulation, or there's something more wrong with her than they realize.

     
  9. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Chapter 24: Escape From Frost

    If this was a nightmare, it seemed there was no awakening from it. Shadowy beings passed him by. He couldn't tell if they were real or not; it became increasingly hard to resist lashing out at them. Despite a persisting cold, ashes fell from the sky. Sometimes it seemed like there was fire in the distance, from the red glows on the horizon. Calem couldn't tell if it was real or not, as his senses were entirely messed up. Even his heightened senses enchantment gave him indecipherable signals aside from some very clear information on how to kill the passing shadows.

    Everything appeared either black or gray, except for himself and the sky. The latter was all deep reds and oranges, much like the sky had been when he'd been waiting on the train. That is, when he could think to look at what was around him. Had they missed on something that would have saved Serena instead of keep whatever promise she had made to Lysandre? And she had those miracle flowers, so why didn't they save her? But any time his grief caught up with him, the hatred returned and kept him in anger. His ancestors weren't even talking to him this time, just driving him on as if they knew it was inevitable that he would end up joining them.

    Then was this the last he would know before he ceased to be fully himself? It was a cold fear that the hatred kept trying to eradicate, although both were cause for painful thoughts. Who were those shadows? Strangers or friends? He couldn’t tell the difference now, maybe he never would again. They were just possible victims, but he would know the one he hated most now… this was a terrible loneliness in this shadow world… he didn’t have to be alone and he knew what would fix that but that would damn him to never escaping his family’s fate.

    Although the shadows didn’t seem to notice him, one finally did. It was speaking to him through an unknown language. Who was that? Pulled equally by hatred and fear, he nearly fled but then a different curse hit him. It was one he'd felt before, one to stop teleporting from working. Furious, he tried to punch the shadow, but it turned out to be a better fighter. It knocked him away several feet into some kind of stone, dazing him for a moment. Then he was clasped by a strong inhuman grip, unable to move; the shadow cast another spell on him.

    This one started to clear up his vision. The sky seemed red and the distance was black. But up close, he found himself in the earthy blue arm of a Golurk. Underneath his feet, there was a patch of pale grass coated in silver-white frost. It wasn't ashes, but snowflakes falling around him. At the edges of his clear vision, he saw gravestones. And closer still, there was a giant with ragged clothes and long white hair. “AZ?” he asked, confused.

    “Keep calm,” he said gently. “I'm glad that worked, but you'll need to pull yourself through the rest of the way.”

    On realizing what actually happened, he felt horrified. “What, I attacked you? I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was you! I...”

    AZ put a hand on his head. “Calm yourself. And don't worry about it. It's for the best that you ended up attacking me rather than anyone else, since I’ve dealt with your kin before. You don't even have a weapon, so there isn't a lot you could do to me. Although, that was very close.”

    “Huh?” He pointed to the left, so Calem tilted his head and saw a taller memorial in the shape of an obelisk. At shoulder height, there was a dagger stuck right up to the hilt into the stone. He looked away from it, willing himself not to be tempted to pull it out. “Oh... I wasn't sure where I was going, so they must have led me here. What are you doing? Weren't you going to stay in the forest?”

    After checking on him, AZ nodded. “Yveltal awoke and vanished nearly immediately. I'm not sure what happened, but I felt as if he was very angry about it. Since those Flare people keep looking for me, I wasn’t going to investigate right off. But then my Pokemon got agitated beyond just Yveltal's awakening.” He gestured to where the Sigilyph was hovering nearby; the Torkoal was even creeping up to them. Calem looked to the two other Pokemon, trying to focus in on them and clear up his vision; the Golurk wasn’t going to let him go yet. “They told me that you were in trouble and I left to find you. Only, you're not easy to track down. I came to find this dagger instead to locate you through it, and here you were. But your mind is clouded by your ancestors, warping your perception of reality.”

    That worried him, but when Calem looked at his arms and down his pajama shirt, he didn't see any of the black marks on his skin (although it was tinged slightly blue, which he wasn’t sure was real). He must not have killed anyone, yet it had been a close call. “I’m not sure what's been going on. When did Yveltal wake up? That's the last thing I clearly remember, hearing him.” Since it was, it meant what happened between the dream and the delusion, and even the dream, was real.

    “Last night, so nearly a full day ago,” AZ said. “What do you remember?”

    He tightened his grip on the Golurk’s arm; it was reassuring, since the Pokemon wanted to make sure he was safe. “I had a dream where I saw my friend Serena in front of Yveltal's cocoon. My other friends and I had nearly talked her out of working with Plasma, but in my dream, I saw her there with a few of them, including their leader Lysandre. Earlier, she'd said that she had been at Xerneas' awakening, and received some miracle flowers from him. But she didn't know what happened to him after they parted. In my dream, she used one of the flowers to try awakening Yveltal. It didn't entirely work, so Lysandre killed her. They sensed me then and I woke up, then ran all the way over to where the dream had taken place. And, Yveltal was gone with Serena dead exactly as I had seen her. I got so angry about it. We nearly had her listening to us but it was too late and now she's dead. I know Lysandre did it; I hate him...”

    “Don't let that hatred overtake your heart,” AZ said. “It will only end up spreading more grief and suffering. Besides, even if you hate him, is taking vengeance on him worth an eternity of torment and enslavement at the hands of your hateful ancestors?”

    Part of his frustration didn't want him to listen to AZ any more. But if anyone could really understand the weight of those consequences, it was AZ. “No,” he said, then sobbed. Admitting that made him feel helpless. He had powers beyond normal people, but if he couldn't use them without completely ruining himself, it was better if he didn't have them at all. Then he noticed how frigid his tear felt on his cheek, nearly freezing there. There wasn't much snow on the ground, but there was ice on the graves and trees. While his senses were almost normal again, it just let him know that he barely felt his extremities and everything else... “It's too cold.”

    “I'll get you back into town, where someone can heal you better,” AZ said, gripping his shoulder. Once the Golurk let him go, the giant picked him up easily and brought him out of the graveyard. Calem closed his eyes and didn't notice much else until hours later.

    -+-

    I had been out of it at the time, but you should hear what happened not long after AZ brought me into Anistar.

    Calem had gone off so fast last night that not even Swift was able to keep up with him. Trying to figure out where he was, Mortan went back and forth between the normal realm of reality and the realm of spirits, attempting to use their bonds of friendship to locate him. He'd left their Pokeballs and the miracle flower in his dorm room, so there really wasn't any other way.

    Finally, in the early evening, he picked up Calem's aura in a distant town. Swift could not manage the swiftstep technique without Calem, so Mortan brought the other five over to the realm of spirits in order to cross the distance faster. They arrived outside of a hospital in Anistar; the building had some aura interference that made it easier to emerge in the parking lot. As the door to the emergency room was automated, they were able to get in easily. It shouldn't be hard to find him from here, especially with the ghosts who could peek into rooms from the walls.

    And then someone stopped Mortan on the spot. AZ, he was here? And the three Pokemon who were hanging around him these days; he'd spoken with them on occasion when Calem was visiting AZ. Still, how was he allowed here in sight of them, with nothing trying to pull him away? Was it because of the two gods being missing? Or, had the oath keeping them apart been broken? Mortan went over to him, not sure if this was real. “AZ?”

    He looked over, equally in shock. There was nothing keeping them apart now, so the oath must have been broken. “Lukan,” he said softly, holding his hand out.

    Mortan went over and hugged his thumb. “Ah, I've missed you! What are you doing here?”

    “Is it because of Calem?” Swift asked, although she wouldn't be understood.

    She was still right. “I brought Calem here,” AZ said. “You all must have come looking for him. I think he'll be okay, but I’m not sure how healers are these days.”

    “Uh, sir?” a man said, coming out of the room nearby. He glanced around the Pokemon there, as if expecting someone else to be there.

    “These are the boy's Pokemon,” AZ explained to deflect that curiosity. “They’re devoted to him, so they must have come as soon as they could.”

    He nodded. “I see. You all can stay with Calem, but behave yourselves and don't mess with the machines in his room.”

    “If they're helping him, then I won't mess with them at all,” Yorick said. Mortan felt sure that the ghost would keep his word.

    The nurse then turned back to AZ. “He has hypothermia and frostbite, so he'll need to be here for a few days while we make sure he can recover. You brought him in at a good time. Do you know his family so we can contact them?”

    “I know one of his teachers at school is Professor Sycamore,” AZ said after a moment of thought. “I'll contact him so they know where he is.”

    “All right, then he's a student of LMA? We'll keep that in mind.”

    “Oh, and there's something you should know,” AZ said. “When I found him, he was being troubled by some hateful spirits. There's supposed to be a woman in this town who can deal with them.”

    “Olympia,” Mortan said quietly, having hurried up by his old friend's ear.

    “I think her name is Olympia,” he said. “You should contact her and ask that protective barriers be put up near him so the spirits from the graveyard don't interfere.”

    The nurse nodded. “All right. The hospital has some shields for that, but she should come over if we ask for a patient. Excuse me.” He hurried on down the hall.

    “I haven't seen the teacher, but I think I could find one of his other friends,” AZ said. He looked down at Mortan. “Do you want to stay here with him or come with me? I've missed you too, but I understand if you want to watch over him. I'd stick around myself, but this place isn't built for those like me.” His head was up against the ceiling even though he was slouched some to fit.

    Mortan was torn by this. It was a relief to be back with AZ, but Calem was also his friend and leaving him didn't feel right either. But then Percival spoke up. “You should go with him. We'll keep an eye on Calem. Besides, Yveltal said you should watch out for if the Asari spirits overtook him. We'll do that for you, and find you if it's needed.”

    “Yeah, I think he would understand since you two have been apart for so long,” Starlet said. The others agreed.

    “Thank so much; you're all great friends too,” Mortan said, bowing to them. Then he turned to AZ. “They said they'd keep watch over him, so I can go with you. I know how to find the professor as long as he's in Lumiose.”

    It was a most terrible day, and a most wonderful day, one he'd never forget.

    -+-

    Letters aren't as popular as they once were, but I've received many that are important to me. There was the collection that was in the cowl's box, for one. Then there's these letters I received while I was in the Anistar hospital. One was from my parents, in my mother's small looped handwriting.

    'Dear Calem:

    This past year has been rough, what with being separated from you and all. There's been many times when your father and I have wished we could go meet up with you, maybe in a place where the native magic is strong enough for it to be safe. But it seems like there might be nowhere truly safe we could meet, especially not after you told us of the catacombs that were underneath the school. I hope we will be able to meet face to face again without being afraid.

    We did take a chance to visit you in the hospital as soon as we heard about you being there. You didn't seem awake, which is both fortunate and heart-breaking that it's the only way we've been close to you recently. As soon as we heard that you had a severe case of hypothermia, neither of us could stop worrying so we caught a train up to Anistar. It was a relief to hear that you didn't have any of the curse markings, but still, we feel terrible that you got hurt like that because of them. I left some of my favorite coffee with you, so you could have something warm to drink.

    Your Pokemon were very sweet to us while we were there. They remember who we are and even tried to cheer us up at the time. From that, I can imagine that you're treating them well; that makes us proud that you've gotten the adoration of such Pokemon. Percival didn't do much, but the nurse told us that they seem to be keeping guard over you in turns, so I think he was focused on that. We didn't see Mortan while we were there, but he might have been resting in another room. Eventually, Shaun said that we should go, at least him because he felt like the shields around your room were being strained. I couldn't hug you as you were, but I did try to brush your hair smooth.

    We heard about what happened from Professor Sycamore. It's hard to lose a friend like that, especially a girl who had such potential in her. But please remember, you shouldn't lose sight of your morals and fight against those who harmed her in anger. We're certainly not the only ones who want to see you beat this curse; maybe Serena does too. Don't forget that you're not alone, even in grief. Call us to talk if you need to, no matter how long you need.

    We hope you recover well. We love you, Calem, and we're always thinking of you. We can't wait until we can meet again, without troubles.

    Sincerely, Mom and Dad.'

    Then this one from my three friends. Much of it is in Shauna's cute handwriting with little stars over some letters, but Tierno and Trevor wrote bits of it too.

    (S) 'Hey Calem! We heard that you got yourself into a seriously cool situation. Look, we all know that you're the most chill guy at the school, but you don't have to go proving it to the point of turning into a popsicle. You have the most cool and want to see you back because the school's turned the heaters on way too high and now it's stifling in homeroom. Seriously, if we start to want ice cream during school in this November cold snap, then they've got to turn down that heater a few degrees. Or get the cool person back in class!'

    (Tr) 'Sorry about that, Calem, Shauna said she was going to write a letter to cheer you up, but we didn't realize she'd go that far with the puns. Although I think she's trying to cheer herself up too because she's been extreme about it the past couple of days. We didn’t see the scene, but it's shocking to know what happened.'

    (S) 'Aw come on, we could all use a good laugh. Although it is awful what happened. We're going to be back in homeroom tomorrow (today was called off) and it's going to be so weird with her not at her desk. Or you for that matter, but we know you'll be back. She can't come back. It's terrible and I wish we could have done something for her.'

    (Te) 'I did take the miracle flower she gave me and gave it to her father. I'm sure she meant to do that. And it did work to break him from the coma. He's still recovering too, although I feel a little bad because I woke him up to find out that Serena is gone. But like I wrote, I’m sure that's what she wanted once she realized we were telling the truth. I just wish she took us seriously sooner so that didn't have to happen.'

    (S) 'I know. But we can't lose hope because she's gone. I miss her a lot already, but I hope that things work out right and the ones who hurt her get punished for it. Anyhow, you get better soon. Lots of people around here have been asking us about you, cause they're not sure what happened and are worried about you too. They've been asking too about how you showed up when we know you went back to school, but we've said they have to wait until you say it's okay to share. We hope you'll be back soon!

    Love, Shauna, Tierno, and Trevor.'

    I did get a lot like that, including some from Professor Sycamore and Korrina. There were a lot of cards too, like from other students or Diantha. And even from Olympia. I didn't get to meet her in person at the time, but she left me a long note in elegant handwriting on her get well card.

    'To Calem: It's unfortunate to find another youth whose been tormented by souls that should had departed long ago. Even so, I find in your aura the wishes of many others for your well-being, even from some departed souls. Your path may seem dark now, but there are many lights reaching out to guide you. Don't be afraid to let them close to help you.

    The ones who haunt you are familiar to me; I’ve felt their overbearing hate before. But I believe that hate will undermine itself while love will support itself. The hate can't overtake you unless you allow it to do so. Keep the lights of your bonds close and you may not even hear them. On my part, I’ve done what I can to reinforce the shields around you while you heal. I ask nothing for it, as it was my responsibility to keep those wandering spirits restrained.

    About those spirits, the one I’ve dealt with the most seems to be chained by malice more than consumed by it. He puzzled me at first because at times he's nearly cooperative with the efforts of myself, and my master when she still had this duty. I see light even in him from time to time. Perhaps it may be more fruitful to free him than keep him restrained, although I don't know enough to do so.

    As it is, I hope I’ve made your stay here a little more peaceful.

    From Olympia'

    After I awoke, Mortan visited me a couple times, bringing a letter from AZ with him once. It's on an unlined sheet of paper and looks large, but if you consider that he's twice the size of anyone else and would have trouble using a pencil from it, it's actually quite restrained and straight.

    'Dear Calem,

    I am sorry to have taken Lukan from you at this time, but at the same time thankful because you did inadvertently bring us back together. The words that kept us apart were broken without any sign, which gave us some worry that it's because Yveltal and Xerneas are in trouble. But then, I believe some other god must have been enforcing it and let us come back together now. I left the safety of the woods because you were in trouble and I wanted to help, not even thinking of Lukan at the time. Even if I knew you probably didn't have a weapon, you're still adept with magic, making it dangerous to face you in a state like that. But again, rather it be me than another. Helping a friend not make a mistake similar to my own seems to have been enough with the years I spent alone.

    We're not sure what's going to happen to us now. We both expected time to catch back up to us when we were reunited, but nothing of the sort has occurred. In a way, it's good that we're still here. The key must be protected and it would have ended up in the hospital if the expected happened, with you not alert enough to make sure it was kept out of the wrong hands. They're still looking for me, but I’m back in the woods now. Although I fear its safety won't last much longer, as the enchantments are growing weaker in being blocked off from Xerneas' power. We want to do something about the gods being captive, but I can't freely move around Kalos as I used to. When the coast seems clear, I plan on visiting Zygarde and seeing if it can help.

    Lukan says that he wants to travel between us when you're better, as he can use the realm of spirits to reach us unnoticed. I'm fine with that, since you may still need his help. Besides, with my current Pokemon friends, and you and the other kids that have reached out to me, I feel more blessed by friendship than I've ever been.

    Sincerely, AZ'

    Most unexpectedly, I got a letter from Richard too. His handwriting was shaky and a little hard to decipher at points, but given he was also recovering in a hospital, it would be surprising if it wasn't.

    'Dear Calem,

    I'm sorry I couldn't do anything more to stop her. I didn't even find her in Winding Woods, but I know she was there as a friend of mine recognized her going in with other members of Team Flare. In the last few years, she has been getting passionate about their environmentalism, pressing me often to make the Chateau more eco-friendly. But we didn't think she'd jump right in to join them as soon as she could, when their views are growing more extreme. She has been saving money for a while, but I always thought it was to support expenses on pricier forms of Pokemon training.

    Since I've crossed Lysandre and I know he can spin facts in his favor, I’m letting you and a number of people know what happened to me then. The more people that know the truth of this situation, the better. I made plans to go to Snowbelle as soon as I had a few hours free and I happened to arrive as many were in Winding Woods itself. Once I heard Serena was in there too, I went in as I knew how to navigate the place. There were a pair of Flare members that had been posted at the entrance to keep other people out that day.

    However, they also knew me as the former League Champion. The position has been called a modern day royalty, not in real power but in that the people of Kalos give a Champion respect due to royalty. It allows me to get into a lot of places that would otherwise turn most people away and that day was no exception. While it took some discussion and a Pokemon battle to show that I wasn't going to take no for an answer, they let me in.

    There were many Flare members in that place, posted strategically on paths and in openings so that it was near impossible to pass through the woods without running into them. Most of them only had a single Pokemon so they had no luck in resisting my being there. I did notice that they had an abundance of Poison and Steel Pokemon. If a Fairy Pokemon had been trying to make its way through the paths, it would have a difficult time getting anywhere, maybe even a very powerful one. There were enough people in the woods that day to stress the path twisting enchantments too, so it wasn't as chaotic as usual.

    I believe that's why I ran across Xerneas in trouble. The Winding Woods are supposed to be under his control, but as I wrote earlier, this incursion was strategic against him. It was enough of a shock for me to run into one of our gods, but then he pleaded for my assistance in getting to the edge of the forest. After using a Hyper Potion to heal his wounds, I agreed and let him lead through what he thought the shortest way out was. My Pokemon fought the battles for him in most cases, although there were a few where he cooperated with my lead. It's surprising, after hearing stories and legends of how he plays tricks on humans for the fun of it. He didn't find it as fun to find the tables turned on him.

    Then we ran into Lysandre and I asked him what he was doing with my daughter and Xerneas. He didn't even bother with his usual genial demeanor, instead telling me that I shouldn't interfere with his grand vision. As he put it, the world is filled with too many people, too many of which he saw as ugly filth not worthy of being alive. He wants to wipe the world clean and start everything fresh with the goal of keeping it as beautiful and pure as possible. I've heard that he may now have Yveltal as well. Yet, I don't believe that's enough for what he desires, even though he could possibly manipulate their powers to create a disaster right now.

    And it seems that Serena is a part of his plans, since he believed that due to her heritage and innate talents, she was best suited to awaken the gods. I ended up battling him, thinking that Xerneas might be able to bolt out of the forest if I distracted Lysandre. Maybe even contact Serena and make her see the danger Lysandre was. However, the first thing he did was order his Gyarados to strike me.

    I don't know what happened after that. I no longer have the Pokemon that were with me at the time. According to Grace, Serena's Pokemon are missing too. I don't know what I'm going to do now. Someone needs to stop Lysandre, but if I couldn't do so back then, I don't know if I could even if I trained up a new set of Pokemon. Sometimes I think of asking Diantha to do something. Not that she's a bad Champion, but I’m not sure she's up to it either. Her life seems like a brilliant whirlwind and she always seems to be involved in one thing or another. I'd hate to see her fall too because I asked her to do what I couldn't.

    Calem, don't get involved with Team Flare. It's too dangerous for a young man like you. While he's been promising his followers that they'll be safe with him, if he'll sacrifice someone he saw as important for his goals, I don't think anyone is safe around him.

    Take care, Richard'

    All these people wanted me to get better and not put myself in danger. Or, more danger than I was in already. But it was in those letters that I started making a plan. I wasn't ready to put it into action right away, since I still needed time to get well after my brush with hypothermia. I just knew that I wouldn't be satisfied just keeping quiet and good with all this turmoil going on around me.

    -+-

    Also, I didn't see these until several weeks later when I was back in school, but Serena had a journal that her parents let us keep since we were her closest friends outside of Flare. They knew that because, well, remember that picture we took of all five of us at the beach? That was in her locket necklace when they opened it. We wouldn't want to share the whole thing at this time; it's still rather soon and emotions over all this haven't entirely settled down. But these few might help you understand her a bit better without revealing too much.

    Well the party wasn't nearly as dull as I thought it would be. At first it was. I'm usually up for dressing up nicely and being in the spotlight, but sheesh, I don't know if anyone invited there really cared about my sixteenth birthday. Come on, people, this is supposed to be special and you all seem to be there just for appearances. I bet most of them didn't even care for me and would have stolen the spotlight if they could.

    I guess my parents cared, but you know them. They latch onto the idea of family but they're both so wrapped up in their own lives that we hardly are a family. Sure, you both showed up to my sixteenth, but that doesn't excuse the fact that one of you always seemed to be missing from the rest. And both of you on my tenth birthday! I still won't forgive them for that. I was all excited about it too, since they talked about taking me and some friends (who don't even talk to me anymore, sheesh) out to an amusement park for a day of fun. But then they both changed their plans so that on my birthday, I was left with the servants in the Battle Chateau and none of my friends came over because they only heard that the park trip was canceled. It doesn't matter that we went later, they missed the actual date because they were too busy putting their lives before mine.

    They didn't even have that great of a showing at this party either. I straight out told them at several points that what I wanted was a Pokedex. That would be the most useful thing to me right now, having an electronic database chock full of information and observations on many different Pokemon. With that, I can better plan for upcoming battles and tailor my team even more to be able to handle anything that comes our way. But no, they got me nothing like that. I didn't get anything remotely like that. Instead, they got me some silly locket that I have no idea what to do with and a few other items of minor use. It's times like this that make me wonder if they really get me.

    I did get a pretty nice present from Lysandre. He even said that he wanted to ask a big favor of me. While he didn't tell me what it was, it's pretty clear that he has good hopes in me and might even be depending on me too. He also said that it would be nice if we could stop time right then, so I could keep my youthful beauty in a just and good world. That was really sweet, even if he is old. Definitely need to help him out later on with whatever he's got.

    But the highlight of the party, and when things turned around, was when my friends from school showed up in costume for a musical number they put together for me. Hah, that easily topped their Fletchling performance a few years back. They had all sorts of Pokemon in the chorus and it was a sound that I doubt anything else could replicate. Conversation with them was a lot more lively and entertaining; I dunno what it is about them, because they seem to do that without thinking about it.

    Oh, and their costumes were all funny, being sparkly animal clowns. I'm going to have to save those photos in an album so they don't get lost. Especially Calem! He was kind of adorable because he was trying to keep his cool guy attitude when he was all dolled up like a sparkly bunny. It was hard to take him seriously even if he was being his normal self. Apparently they let Shauna pick the costumes alone, first rate mistake there. If Calem doesn't watch it, that girl's going to have him wrapped around her little finger in a few years. Maybe I’ll put on the big sister act and give her some advice on how to do that.

    Now I’ve ended up agreeing to join them on a summer trek around Kalos. I suppose I should try to make the most of it so it isn't a complete waste of time. They're planning on going to the Cyllage area soon, so it shouldn't be much trouble to sneak over to Grant's gym while they're distracted with other stuff. However, I think my father's up to something. He must not want me to catch up and surpass him, being that he suggested that I go with them instead of focusing on my goal.

    One of these days, people are going to say that he's my father as though I'm the more admirable one instead of the other way around. Same way with my mother. I swore that I’d do things they never have and excel at that. And at things they've done too so that people respect me for being me, not their daughter.



    We ended up running around like idiots in the rain and mud today and somehow that was the most fun I’ve had in a long time instead of the most embarrassing thing. It accomplished nothing but getting everyone in need of showers and lots of laundry work. Yet it seems worth it. I should be the more respectable one around as the oldest, but, I wouldn't replace those four with anyone.

    But thank the heavens they agreed to come back into Lumiose for coffee and cake once we cleaned up. It might be unhealthy but it was really good after today.



    Lysandre and Aliana met with me in Parfum Palace's library this evening. I guess Owain must like his nephew, since they seem to be able to come and go freely here, borrowing what books and such they need without a word. Of course, it seems like you could get on Owain's good side just by indulging and complimenting his spoiled Furfrous. He's such a fool compared to his contemporaries like the master of Shabboneau Manor.

    Anyhow, Lysandre finally told me his plans tonight. It's really impressive. Apparently they've been able to monitor the mysterious god Zygarde, the one who appears so infrequently that people often forget about him being in Kalos as well. The dragon god has been stirring lately as he's unhappy with the rapid advancement of technology at the expense of nature in the world. If he awakens, then the most likely event will be him annihilating three-quarters of the population and leveling any city over a certain size. That isn't just in Kalos, though. Zygarde's murmurs tell of worldwide devastation in order to set the world to how he thinks things should be. He doesn't care who dies as his focus is not on individuals but the whole planet.

    No one can deny the disaster that would be, but Team Flare has been planning and preparing for this for many years. Lysandre believes that if humans and Pokemon work to correct the growing imbalance in time, then Zygarde can be appeased and won't put his judgment to the world. It does require some drastic actions and sacrifices; there may still be a death toll in this effort. But it's necessary, as the alternatives are far worse. Also, he knows that a great many people won't be happy with their methods, but those are idiots who prefer to keep their ignorance rather than opening their eyes to what lies beyond their small homes. Flare might be seen as terrorists or even as a force of evil, but it is necessary and is based on good ideals and truth. Lysandre's willing to take that bad image for the sake of the best world possible.

    And he does seem to need me for this. One of the things he wants to do is awaken Xerneas and Yveltal, to awaken more people to the seriousness of our situation. Not just anyone can awaken a god, though, so he's spent a decade searching for one or two who can reach them. He says he considered and researched many people, but I'm the one in all that time who has the best chance at awakening both. According to their data, I shouldn't have a problem with Xerneas, while Yveltal might be difficult to reach. He mentioned that someone else did stand a better chance at reaching Yveltal than myself, but he didn't think that person's chances were good with Xerneas while mine were reasonably good with Yveltal if I got the other god's blessings.

    I'm not sure about being seen as a villain for trying to save the world. But Lysandre did so without hesitation. As long as he's in charge, I’m sure we can appease Zygarde properly.



    Argh, Calem I hate you! Why'd you have to argue with me like that in front of everyone? And say stuff like you couldn't respect me. I wasn't doing anything different than before, so why is it a problem now and not before? Yeah, I didn't tell Shauna about moving. I know she would have been whiny and clingy, making it harder to move out when I need to be away from campus outside of school hours to do what Lysandre's expecting of me. It was easier on both of us if I just didn't say anything. I even told her that I had important things to be working on, but she had to ask why our friendship wasn't that important. It's the fate of the world over two peoples' feelings, so of course this is more important.

    I had thought Calem was a reasonable person, but he's bought into that mystical nonsense that Korrina was going on about. The bonds between people or Pokemon isn't some physical thing that has a real effect; it's all in the irrational mind of the individual. And yes, emotions do play a part in using magic, but emotions are easy. Everybody has emotions every moment of the day and it doesn't matter what they are since it's all the same in the end. They can even be bypassed with sufficient willpower or intelligence. He was even taking the side of that weird Lucario that keeps stalking me; creepy thing, you already evolved with someone else so stick with her. Apparently the Lucario has visions of the future and thinks I’m going to die in the next few years. That's utter nonsense. Predictions like that only work when you take them seriously and convince yourself that you will die.

    What happened in the past year that changed all of you? Last summer was a lot of fun and I get that you're my friends, so why are you treating me like an outcast now?



    I wish I could go back in time; these days are so dismal. I knew siding with Flare would be unpopular at first even if it is the responsible choice. But everyone at school seems to be avoiding me; many who used to try so hard to be near me won't even look at me now. I'm doing what I think is right, so why can't you all see it? Not even the teachers pay as much attention to me.

    And somehow Calem's gotten popular, even though I think he hasn't really noticed. He's the same as ever, just being the apprentice at the Tower of Mastery too. Many students are looking up to him now. He only has one proof of magic, for goodness sakes. Any student at our level should be able to snatch that up easy no matter where they choose. Even though he got it early on, he doesn't show any ambition to go further What is he even doing at LMA when he seems like he's not sure where he's going with the education? Oh wait, he was an accidental addition because he happened to run into me on the testing day. He probably wouldn't even be here if I hadn't met him, but now he says he won't even respect me. That jerk.

    At least I can rely on Lysandre; he still thinks I’m important.



    Yesterday's entry looks like an overeager kid wrote it. Well I was really excited, since I got to awaken Xerneas and received his blessing in the form of these miracle flowers. I used an escape rope to get out, because I managed to get through to the center on my own, on foot; forget getting back out of that twisted place on foot too. But it seems like I missed something, or maybe I overheard something today that I shouldn’t have.

    I was working in Lysandre's cafe as a waitress when I overheard one of the guys ask where they were keeping Xerneas, and someone else hushed him by saying 'not in front of the princess'. I'm sure that Lysandre's plan was to let Xerneas go about free and do his own thing to convince people to shape up. But, did they capture him instead? That's not what Lysandre told me, but I'm not sure anymore if he told me everything. I also heard that they've been tapping into holocaster calls. The reason made sense, they said they were keeping track of some psycho killer to keep him in check and researching some method from the war to control him. That doesn't really sound right, or like Lysandre at all. Maybe it's just some overeager novices who are making guesses at what we could do to change the world when it's known we'll be taking drastic measures.

    But if it is true, I’m not sure who I could trust anymore if I can't trust Lysandre. I mean, there's even rumors that my dad's in the hospital for some reason. But I’m sure they could find me if they really wanted to. It's not like I'm hiding completely out of sight, so they must be ignoring me like usual. Although I kind of wish my dad would show up and try to drag me back to their home, just so I was sure of things.



    Today has been crazy, in more ways than one. We were supposed to do a simple task of mining some stones, looking for those Pokemon specific minerals to subject them to various experiments. With how uncommon they are, it seems a waste to use them in a manner that might destroy them. Then again, their effects are so weak that without a mega ring they're more valuable for aesthetics. It’s not like we're cracking diamonds to figure out what they are.

    A simple task, but once I got in the tunnels, I was struck by cold feelings that I couldn't quite understand. It seems so ominous, like being led to a guillotine or something. I hated it; it made me feel so lonely and afraid and I don't understand how just being in a mine can do that. It's not like I’m scared of the dark or enclosed spaces or anything. Maybe some spirit in the mine was messing with me.

    And only me; that was embarrassing when I realized that the others all seemed eager for the project or not looking forward to spending the day digging in rocks to find other rocks. Not a bit of fear or the like in any of them. So I went off on my own; I didn't want any of them to catch me like that. But who should come looking for me but Calem, Shauna, Tierno, and Trevor? Why did they all have to come, I was thinking. They only needed to send one person.

    It turned out all right though. They said that they were worried about me more than anything. And I’m pretty sure they were all honest about it. It’s weird, since they were the last ones I was expecting sympathy out of after what happened on the first day of school this year. They really are my friends after all. I tried to warn them about the trouble coming, although I have to be careful. Lysandre says not to let outsiders know certain things yet or they're persecute us before we can do what's necessary. But they don't trust him. Apparently he's treated Calem badly somehow. I'll have to ask him about it tonight. I mean, I can't think of why they'd think that when Lysandre sponsored Calem in paying off his tuition. There was even something about my bonds with others weakening except the one that would kill me. Do they really think Lysandre would kill me? I'm important to him and his plans, so he wouldn't harm me one bit.

    But then I learned something else new later on. Lysandre told me that he and a couple of the scientists would meet me in town, so I thought they'd arrive at the train station. They didn't, but I found Calem there leaving for Lumiose City when the rest of us were staying to camp here overnight. Apparently he has some family curse that's trying to make him into a killer and monster, and he has to stay at certain locations when he sleeps or there will be trouble. Maybe that vision meant him?

    But I feel like he wouldn't kill me either. He obviously doesn't want to kill anyone, so he takes all these precautions. I heard from Shauna later that he even allows his Pokemon to attack him if they think he's a danger. I can't imagine any sane person doing that, but then again, this doesn't seem like a sane problem. Not only that, but he stayed so confident and calm about it, like he normally is, even though he was talking of curses and being turned into some forsaken monster because of his ancestors’' hate. How can he do that? It sounds like he even has to be careful in his thoughts; I’d be terrified of myself if I was in a situation like that. But then he's apparently been dealing with this for a while and he stays like a normal guy most of the time.

    I couldn't even see a hint of that darkness in him when he was talking about it. Maybe I underestimated him; he's got to be a whole lot braver than anyone else I know to be like that.

    There was a lot we didn't understand about each other. Maybe if we did, things would have turned out differently.
     
  10. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    I love AZ's story in the game, but I can't help but feel like the end of it is weak. It's nice that he had to let go of his hate and relearn how to love again, that's a great message. But he interacted with you so few times and the battle with him doesn't seem like quite enough. Still, I don't think they'd do something like I have here, giving the player character the chance to do something terrible and having AZ stop you. Well, actually they do give you that choice, but I'll talk about that later.

    And yes, Serena really is dead.

    @493pkmns: Hello! Thanks for picking up on those, although some are indeed style choices. There are points where I skip a contraction for emphasis or a formal tone, since I hear people speak like that. And a mixed blessing is completely in character for how I write Xerneas.

    Also, on how fast Calem moved, the situation pushed him to move much faster than he normally would with swiftstep.
     
  11. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Chapter 25: The Dagger's Release


    Oh right… when I was in the Anistar hospital, I had a dream. Probably many dreams because they kept me asleep to help me heal, but this is the one I remember.

    “Why do you keep fighting your fate?”

    He was back in the strange dark landscape with ashy raindrops falling from the sky. While he’d been trying to get out of it again, he stopped on being spoken to by the eldest Asari. Even in the dream, he was unmistakable. The other Asari Calem had met all looked very similar: unfinished faces, clawing black marks across their skin, true appearance hidden by the ragged cloak. But this ancient patriarch was different. His hands were thin and long, with sharp dirty nails and a mix of dark and light skin that made it hard to tell what the base color was. More tellingly, his face actually looked like it had been ripped off his head, with raw red marks across it.

    “I won’t accept it as my fate,” Calem told him.

    “You don’t get a choice in this, not with how far you’ve come with our powers,” he said in disdain.

    “You might believe that, but I don’t.”

    “It’s not a matter of belief.” He reappeared on Calem’s other side, but he was used to that from Heinrich. “Don’t you get it? The thrill of moving like a shadow in the world, building your target’s fear, then striking at the height of their fear? Once you know that, nothing else can compare.”

    “I’d rather not have that thrill,” he said, turning his attention yo finding a way out of this place.

    “You would never feel helpless again as one of us.”

    “I’d rather feel helpless than be your descendant,” Calem said. And he meant it. “But since I can’t change that, I just won’t use our powers like you do.”

    Then the dream landscape changed, to the cave where Serena had died. The eldest Asari smiled, looking particular devilish now. “You could make those who would hurt you suffer greatly.”

    That did make him angry, but more at his ancestor. “You made me watch her die, didn’t you?”

    Laughing, he warped a short distance ahead. “Of course I did. Our power is death. You should see the death of any person you hold a bond with, no matter what. It makes it quicker to take vengeance on such fools.”

    He’d see the death of any he had a bond with; that was horrifying. And yet still not enough to convince Calem. “I am not killing anyone.”

    The eldest Asari frowned at him. “At the very least, you should kill that Lysandre. His intentions seem to include killing nearly everyone.”

    “And you have a problem with that?” Calem asked.

    “Of course I do. If the entire world dies out, there won’t be anyone left to hunt down and kill.”

    Calem shook his head. “I won’t kill him. Yes I hate him and I want to stop him, but I’m not going to fall into your hands and kill him.”

    “What you wish to accomplish is impossible. You will never be able to do that successfully.”

    -+-

    Calem had lost one of his fingers on his left hand to the frostbite, but had been lucky that the doctors could prevent him from losing any more. His arms, hands, and feet were bound in bandages to protect his healing skin. Despite that, he was allowed back to school as long as he didn’t stay on his feet for long. His fingers felt stiff in the bandages, so hopefully the teachers would work with him on getting homework done in other ways. Still, the fact was that this had turned out a lot better than it could have.

    Coming into his homeroom class, he noticed that everyone else was already there. Except Serena, of course. Was he late? He was pretty sure he had left his dorm with plenty of time. Then he noticed that they were finishing up decorating the room. “Welcome back, Calem!” Professor Sycamore said with a large smile. “Though you caught us finishing up the party for your return, we’re happy to have you back.”

    A party for his return? Feeling embarrassed, he said, “What? You didn’t have to do that.”

    “Aw, but we wanted to!” Shauna said, coming over and hugging him. His other classmates cheered and also welcomed him back warmly, so he smiled and accepted it.

    But it felt strange to be back here. The classroom was familiar as always, with the people he’d seen nearly every day for the past five years around him. Except Serena… that just reminded him of seeing her murdered, running through the blazing nightmare, waking up to grief and being painfully cold, reading through his parents’ letter full of heartache (it had made him cry the first time he read it). But this was the same old classroom with his friends and favorite teacher there, so different from what had happened. It hadn’t changed, but he had. Still, he tried to smile for their effort at throwing together a party to welcome him back and not get too caught up in all those thoughts.

    Eventually though, it came up that most of them didn’t know how he’d gone from Lumiose to Couriway and eventually ended up in the Anistar hospital the next day. “I felt Yveltal awakened and was so alarmed at it that I ran out of my room with just my cowl and pajamas,” he admitted.

    “Yeah, some of us were like that but then we went back in our cabins for coats and boots,” Tierno said.

    Calem shrugged. “Well there was also that dream… oh, most of you don’t know, but all these unusual powers I have are from my family being cursed to turn into monsters if we kill people.”

    “Isn’t anyone who kills people a monster?”

    He shook his head. “Maybe, but I mean a real monster, with no face and demonic markings. But Sycamore’s been helping me find ways to beat it already, so I’m working on that.”

    “You’ve got a long road ahead of you, but I’m sure you can beat the curse,” Sycamore said. He was confident.

    Calem was trying to be, but he worried that this experience wouldn’t be the last to test his restraint.

    -+-

    At this point, I had two major enemies: Lysandre and the eldest Asari. Their plans were not entirely clear to me, but they both affected me greatly. I had an idea of what might settle things, but I couldn't put it into motion until early spring of my fifth school year, when I and the rest of the school had settled down after Serena's murder.

    The mega ring on Calem's hand shone a bit brighter, then died off as Yorick returned back to his normal self as a Gengar. “I think that's enough for today,” Calem said to the other members of Battle Club. “It does get to be a strain on both partners after long enough.”

    “That was like fighting a totally different Pokemon,” his opponent said.

    Korrina, who was visiting the academy today and had sparked this demonstration in club, nodded. “Yeah, some changes are subtle and some are incredible. And now that we get reports from all over the world of similar stones with sparks of life energy, the biggest limitation is how few rings we have as no one's been able to replicate them yet. But who knows? That might even change and then more people will need to learn how important it is to acknowledge your Pokemon and treat them as equals.”

    “So how do you get a bond strong enough to do this with?” one of the sixth year students asked Calem. Specifically him, which still surprised Calem with how they respected him now. Before, they just knew to be wary in certain conditions, but lately the club's student leader had been trying to talk him into taking over when she graduated in a few months. He didn't think of himself as a leader.

    But being a good example, he would do that if it made them respect their Pokemon more. “I think you just treat them like you would any friend and it will naturally develop. Sure, it's not easy to understand them, but if you make the effort, you'll find ways to understand.” He had a major help in this with Mortan. But now that the Floette was spending a lot more time with AZ instead, Calem had easily adjusted to figuring out his Pokemon without the translation assistance.

    As club was brought to a close, Calem stayed in one of the battle rooms to talk with Korrina. “There’s something that I’ve wanted to ask you about.”

    “Sure, what's on your mind?” she said, smiling.

    “I was thinking of taking up the League's magic challenge again,” he said. “See, I need to prove that I can use my inherited powers without killing. We don't know if the three goddesses are completely gone or if their spirits remain, but I think such proof would go a long ways to appeasing them. But then, the challenge will involve many battles in which I’m an active participant, instead of the ones here where I’m mostly guiding my Pokemon. It'll be a risk to any who battle me that way, so I’ve decided that before I even start, I want all of the League members to be informed of the danger and to agree to give me a chance. You and Sycamore are best suited to bring it up to them, so would you do it for me?”

    “Oo, that sounds spectacular,” Korrina said, excited rather than fearful. She made a playful punch in the air, then nodded. “Sure thing! There's a meeting coming up this weekend that should make it an appropriate discussion. I mean, I believe in you, but you're right, we don't want to spring a deadly surprise like that on anybody. I'll make sure that they understand the threat, but also that you're doing all you can to lessen it.”

    “Thanks, I appreciate it,” he said with a nod.

    Then she leaned towards him and wagged a finger. “But I better warn you that if we go in telling them that you've got this unusual power on top of being a mega ring user, then you're probably going to find some extra challenges put in your way. Keep in mind that you're working to impress these goddesses, so we have to make extra sure you deserve the honor.”

    He grinned; that prospect was exciting. “Sure thing, I’ll look forward to that.”

    However, there was one last thing he wanted to do before starting preparations to face the Kalos Pokemon League: take claim of the Asari dagger and pass his teacher's test. Now that he had Korrina's word, he checked on what he had on hand. He took his school bag back to his dorm room and changed out of his school uniform; this wasn't a fight to be wearing mostly white to. Ever since he got back from the Anistar hospital, he'd taken to putting the miracle flower on his clothes somewhere, either in a button hole or carefully pinned in place. There was no control in what it would do, but he hoped it might give him an extra chance against his ancestors. That would stay, under the cowl where it was less likely to be hit. Then he made sure his Pokemon knew what was going on and recalled them to their Pokeballs. In that way, he could use swiftstep to reach the graveyard near Anistar in a few minutes.

    He stopped near the entrance, walking the rest of the way in to the war memorial. It was evening now, cool although not as bad as the last time he'd been here. Due to the time and weather, the graveyard was quiet. A few Pokemon cries could be heard in the distance, but this place seemed still. When he activated his heightened senses, he sensed a woman, a Ninjask, and a Shedinja in the graveyard, currently by one of the trees where he couldn't really see them.

    Calem stopped near the tree. “Excuse me, but you really should leave this place,” he said, just loud enough that she could hear clearly.

    “Thanks for worrying, but we're fine,” she said, stepping around the tree in sight. Her Ninjask darted in front of her, peering at them; the Shedinja drifted after their Trainer. “Funny that you noticed us out here, stranger.”

    He shrugged. “I have my ways. But really, it's going to become dangerous here in a little while. We'd rather there not be bystanders.”

    “I’m prepared,” she said, confident. “I'm Alexa, from the Lumiose Press. I'm here looking for an unusual spirit that a few people have reported. Not sure if we can find it, but...” a crackle interrupted her, preceding a dark shield going up around them. His Pokemon appeared around him, apparently forced out from the wary looks of some. Underneath the shield, it began to rain.

    Not good. “Looks like you'll find a spirit at least, but a very unfriendly one,” he said. “Do you have protective spells for you and your Pokemon? You should get them active.”

    “Sure, I said I was prepared,” Alexa said, snapping her fingers and casting a glimmering shield around the three of them.

    While it was bad luck that she was here, Calem figured she'd end up being part of the test. Hoping that she wouldn't end up dying, he approached the memorial. It was dedicated to the 388 who had fallen to Heinrich in the Great War. His great-grandfather’s name was on there, so without a gravestone this would be the most logical place for his spirit to be. Taking a moment to remind himself that he didn't want this to end up as part of who he was, he took hold of the dagger (in a margin where it didn't interfere with the victims' names) and pulled it out. The point and edges were all sharp, with one edge jagged; it was a painful looking weapon. On the steel blade, there were clawing black marks much like those that ended up on the marked Asari.

    Heinrich appeared close behind Alexa. Her Ninjask buzzed in alarm and darted at him; he swatted it away with his hand. As quickly as he could, Calem fired off Water Pulse at Heinrich, forcing him to warp away from her. “You need to kill someone here,” Heinrich said when he reappeared, attacking him with the same spell.

    Calem warped out of that and thought. Heinrich was already dead, so technically he should be able to 'kill' him and pass this test. That is, if he could connect with a constantly moving target. But he already had a plan for this, provided he could pick out something subtle. “Keep him moving,” Calem called to his Pokemon.

    Normally, he didn't use focus objects to cast. Even when his fellow students used wands or amulets to help them, he'd never had a problem with casting itself. This time, he focused his senses on the dagger before taking a deeper look at the situation. The dagger represented the awareness of the Asari. With it in hand, he shouldn't miss anything. The details of this location were numerous: the tiny power of a blade of grass, the feelings of grief and memory attached to the gravestones, the preparations of Alexa (who hadn't come to find Heinrich, and thus wasn't as prepared as she thought she was)... and the one thing he needed, the connection between Heinrich and the eldest Asari. Thin and flexible like a fishing line, but he'd seen it broken before.

    Calem warped to a point on top of a taller tombstone, right in the way of that connection. Before it could flail away, he sliced through it with the dagger. It wasn't a physical thing, but between the magical forces of the dagger and the connection, he felt a strong resistance for a second. He focused all of his attention to that connection and the dagger. With that added effort, the connection snapped and Heinrich stumbled where he had most recently landed. Calem hopped off the gravestone and made sure he had his balance before using a swiftstep to face Heinrich.

    “I killed the connection,” he said.

    Heinrich's face returned to him and he smirked. “I guess that interpretation counts. You wouldn't have accomplished it without knowing your powers.” He straightened up and looked around. “I'm sorry.”

    “You don't have to be,” Calem said, smiling. “I’m glad I could free you.”

    He shook his head. “There’s a lot I am guilty of, not just in pushing the family ideas on you to stave off their suspicions of me. Although what concerns me the most now is you. You're taking an enormous risk in defying the eldest. As far as I know, no one's rebelled against him as much as you have. But now that I’m cut off from him, I don't know if I have the energy to sustain myself to watch over you anymore. I wish I could help.”

    Calem was going to tell him that his help so far had been more than enough and he shouldn't worry. But then he felt a pulse of power from the miracle flower in his shirt pocket. What did it want to do? He pulled it out and held it up between them; the petals had a glow like moonlight. “You’ve helped me a lot already. But, maybe this miracle can do something for you. It's just, it could do anything, good or bad.”

    “If it resonates with my wish, maybe it will answer it,” Heinrich said, reaching out for the flower. Once he touched its petals, it exploded like the last one, causing the ghost to be surrounded by the white petals. They condensed, forming into a speckled Pokemon egg that floated in front of Calem. He'd been turned into a Pokemon? Well, it would allow him to stay and help. Calem took hold of the egg, but it immediately cracked.

    “Wow, that's not what I thought we'd be finding at all,” Alexa said, coming over.

    The shield around the graveyard was broken, although Calem felt a distant anger at his victory. “Thank goodness it didn't last long,” he said. “That was my great-grandfather, the rain assassin of the Great War.”

    “That could still make for a great story,” she said, sounding eager at the prospect. She reminded him of someone, but he couldn't think of who right off. “Although it seems he won't be haunting this place anymore if you'll be looking after him reborn into a Pokemon.”

    “Right,” Calem said, shortly before the egg completely cracked open. In his arms, there was now a small Pokemon, part mossy tree stump and part mournful ghost. “Hello again, Heinrich. That's a surprising form.”

    “He's a Phantump,” Alexa said. “And not really surprising. Folklore says they come from spirits who come to inhabit old stumps.” Then she grinned. “So, you want to go into Anistar and tell me the scoop? There's a great cafe nearby, I can take you there.”

    He dismissed the dagger and cowl so that he appeared normal to her. “Maybe a little bit, but would you please not reveal who I am? There's a few who know, but I don't want it to get widespread.”

    She agreed to that, so I told her some of our story. As for my great-grandfather, it was soon clear that he wasn't a normal Phantump. He retained the three abilities of the Asari, making him unusually quick and accurate while being able to hide or reveal his presence as he pleased. Also like us, he was not strong for a Phantump. Still, when I started bringing him to Battle Club for training, we won a few battles by making him nigh impossible to hit and stalling until the opponent Pokemon was too exhausted to continue.

    -+-

    It was a nice day, so Calem and his friends took their lunch outside to eat with their Pokemon. “What did Korrina have to tell you earlier?” Shauna asked after a little while.

    “Oh yeah, I wanted to tell you about that,” Calem said, opening his bag. Then Heinrich offered the letter that had been given him. “Hey, you sneaking looks at it?”

    “Ke hehe” the Phantump replied, winking at him. Since he was reborn from a human, he retained a lot of knowledge, including how to read and write.

    “You know, between you having a notorious prankster like Yorick and now a Pokemon who can write, I think your team is going to cause a lot of trouble in the future,” Trevor said jokingly.

    “Nah, Swift will keep them in line,” Calem said, opening up the letter from the League. “I asked Korrina a few days about letting the League members know about my powers. I want to start challenging gyms again for the proofs, but I don't want to get into battles like that without them knowing.”

    Shauna laughed. “Normally you wouldn't go telling your opponent what exactly you can do, you know?”

    “But in this case, it's nice to give them the warning,” Tierno said. “Still, I'm sure you'll do great! What'd they say?”

    Calem smiled. “They agreed to it. But with a few provisions. Firstly, if I cause any of them or their Pokemon a severe injury, the League has the right to take any proofs or badges I’ve earned previously away. That's fine.”

    “I think they can do that with anyone,” Trevor said. “But the only cases of that are when a Gym Pokemon dies as a result of a challenger's actions.”

    He nodded. “Haven't heard of that myself, but it makes sense. Secondly, I must reserve my matches for the proofs at least a week in advance. But I know from working in the gyms that they really prefer advance warning on those already; at least two days notice is required for the highest two proofs anyhow. They'll probably give most of the gym trainers that time off too, just in case.”

    “The leaders probably need that time to be ready themselves, even if they are masters,” Shauna said.

    “Yeah, I’m not a normal challenger. And lastly, I had two requests on the order I take on the proofs. Olympia wants to be seventh, and Ramos wants me to face him last. Other than that, I can take on the gyms in whatever order I like.”

    “I've heard that Ramos can be really tough at higher levels,” Trevor said. “Even if he runs a Grass gym with a number of weaknesses, he's that skilled.”

    “He’d be tough for me at any level,” Calem said. “Humans are technically typeless as casters, but I’m an exception. I know it's hard to tell, but my aura aligns with Water and Dark auras, as does one of my Pokemon. Because of that, facing a caster who favors Grass spells could lead me to a quick defeat.” He sat back and counted off on his fingers. “Or Electric, or Fighting, or Fairy, so half the gyms left are not favorable for me while only two are. For those, I have to figure on how to have my team help me out.”

    -+-

    With the idea that I wanted to get what unfavorable aura match-ups out of the way that I could, I put my attention to defeating Clemont's gym first. Electric aura Pokemon don't have a lot of weaknesses, but they don't have many resistances either. More importantly, I had some idea of how I could counter Korrina and Valerie's Pokemon with my own, but not Clemont's. He was now the novice Gym Leader, as his gym had only opened up the previous fall, after he'd lost his position as the Trainer Champion. Thus, there wasn't much information available on what Pokemon he was using and what spells he was capable of. That and one other fact made things ideal to deal with him at an easier level now than later.

    The school bell rang. “All right, now class is officially dismissed,” Professor Sycamore said, having let them relax for the last portion of the school day. “Calem, stay here a moment.”

    “What is it?” he asked, picking up his school bag and going over to Sycamore's desk. “I have some plans this afternoon.”

    He smiled knowingly. “The gym, right? I trust you to keep in control, but even so, the League has decided on precautions for public safety. Prism Tower is in the middle of the largest city around, and it's an open-air structure that can't be locked down as quickly as others. They're closing down Centrico Plaza for the duration on the excuse of maintenance, since you're not far enough along for people to be paying attention.”

    “I feel better knowing they're doing that,” he agreed. He had to wait for his classmates to leave and help Sycamore close down the classroom, but then they could head out for the gym.

    The city workmen had even brought along some of their equipment to set up, making the reason more believable even if they weren't doing anything. There were a few policemen hanging around too, but they were the only others in the large plaza around Prism Tower. Being that it was the middle of the day, when this place would usually be bustling with tourists, locals, and couples, it was a little eerie to have it so empty.

    At the base of the tower, Clemont greeted them. He was the blond haired boy Calem had seen here in the winter of his fourth year of school, now dressed in white work overalls and long heavy gloves suitable for working with live electricity. On his back, there was something that appeared to be a metal backpack; it looked too heavy to be practical. “Hello, professor, good to see you again,” Clemont said, shaking Sycamore's hand.

    He grinned. “Hey, Clemont! It's been a while. Looks like you're staying just as bright as you were in school. And of course, this is one of my homeroom students, Calem.”

    “Good to meet you, Clemont,” Calem said, accepting a handshake too.

    “The same,” he said, nodding. “You’re a lucky guy to get in Sycamore's homeroom; that has to be a fun class. But we're here to deal with your challenge, right? Well, first things first: take this and use a base rune to activate it. Any rune, as long as it's meaningful to you.”

    “All right,” he said, taking the object. It looked like a glass orb, twice the size of his fist with a metal ring around the circumference. Inside, there seemed to be a light coming from nothing. A base rune, so just one letter... he chose one that meant 'awareness', a portion of the heightened awareness spell. The glass then dissolved into dust, causing the light and ring to lift up from his hand.

    “That’s a spirit orb,” Clemont said. “Get used to its presence because from here on out, you'll be using one in all of your magic battles for the League, along with us. It's a standard precaution. What it does is absorb damage for you until it hits the point you would fall unconscious, or worse. It then breaks, signaling the end of the battle. Humans don't heal as easily as Pokemon, you know, and this should prevent more serious injuries.”

    Calem nodded. “I see. I'll still be careful.”

    “That’s good. Now for your challenge, you remember your first proof? That one is simple, as you just need to demonstrate that you can use magic in battle. For the second proof, you need to straight out win a magic duel. No Pokemon to help either of us. I will be holding back to certain standards, but it still won't be easy. Got it?”

    “Yes, I’m ready,” Calem said. It might be foolish on some level to pick the gym he was weak to for this magic duel challenge. Then again, if he won it proved his skills without killing to his ancestors and the fallen gods.

    “One more thing,” Clemont said, pointing into the tower. “You still have to make it through my gym to the top in order to face me. Don't use the stairs or elevator, those are for tourists. Gym challengers of all sorts must pass through a teleporter maze rigged to quizzing stations. Answer right and you'll get there quickly. Answer wrong and you'll have to get through more questions to reach me. Usually the gym trainers too, but not today, it's just the quiz.”

    “Shouldn’t be a problem for an LMA student, right?” Sycamore said, elbowing Calem.

    “Right,” he said nodding.

    “Good, then I’ll meet you up top,” Clemont said, heading inside.

    And the quiz questions really weren't a problem. Most of them were magic related; someone who was here for the proof was doing the wrong challenge if they couldn't answer these right. Although there was one that made him stop and think, as it gave him silhouettes of three similar butterfly Pokemon and asked him to identify the shadow of one. It could have been trouble as he didn't know one of them, but then it asked for the Vivillion's silhouette. That was a familiar Pokemon to him from working in Viola's Gym, so he didn't miss a single question and got to the top in five of them.

    With a yellow tinted spirit orb, Clemont was waiting in the open square on the top level. Many electric lights were around; they made the structure glow brilliantly at night. As it was daytime, sunlight and breezy air spilled in the large openings. It was almost like being back outside again, even with the crisscrossing shadows from the uppermost structure. “Just as expected,” he said, nodding. “So you've come for a magic duel? I don't know if you've heard, but I’m not a pure wizard. I am a wizard and a machinist.” He flung his hand out, activating the backpack he wore. Rapidly, it transformed into body armor, complete with a helm, a visor, arm guards, and leg guards. Much of it was a sturdy black fabric, with bands of metal here and there. Mostly on the arms.

    That was impressive. Although the battle hadn't yet started, Calem activated his senses and noted that the fabric was actually quite tough. Pokemon would have a hard time piercing it with claws or stingers. The spirit orb had been set to break at a lower level than Calem's, but getting through that armor could be a challenge. Meanwhile, Clemont brought his hand up to his chest in a dramatic motion and started to finish his speech. But he was interrupted by the voice of a pre-adolescent girl. “Yeah, and you won't find a better fighter with that combo than my brother!”

    “Bonnie!” Clemont called angrily (although much of it was out of concern for her). “I told you not to come today!”

    A short girl in blond pigtails appeared from the balcony where she'd been hiding behind some of the steel structures. If Calem hadn't been analyzing the armor, he would have noticed her right away. She wore nothing like the armor, just a black tank top and a white skirt. “But I always help you at the gym. That's what you promised, right?”

    Clemont shook his head. “Not always, just when you can be here.”

    “And I can be here now, so I am,” Bonnie said, as if that decided things.

    “Just not today, please,” Clemont said. “This battle is,” he hesitated, trying to find the words to convince her but not insult Calem.

    “I have special arrangements with the Pokemon League,” Calem said. “One of those conditions is that no one is to be involved without knowing the reason behind the arrangements. Do you know why?”

    “Um, because you're one of the academy students?” she guessed.

    “No,” Calem said. “So you have to leave.”

    “You can just tell me,” Bonnie said, stamping her foot down.

    “No we can't,” Clemont said. “I’m really sorry, but that's how things are and you can't stay today.” When she started another argument, he added, “I'll tell Mom if you don't.”

    “Oh, fiiine,” she said, going to the elevator and taking it down.

    Once the elevator was going down, Clemont sighed and shook his head. “Sorry about that. She's really eager and good for her age, but some days she seems to think that she runs the gym, not me.”

    “Sometimes I wish I had a sibling to annoy me,” Calem said. Then he'd be a normal guy without magic dictating exactly how his family was.

    “It’s nice, sometimes,” he said.

    “She’s staying on the ground floor,” he said, since his senses told him that she had stopped by the elevator. Possibly intent on getting to the teleporter in a minute so she could get back up here.

    Clemont nodded and waved a hand to call his handheld holocaster to him. Putting the signal to a unit on the ground floor, he said, “Bonnie, I know you're still down there. Go back home.”

    “You can't know that!” she protested, out of sight of the holocaster camera.

    “I know for certain now,” he said, causing her to give up and go home. Once they were sure of that, he sent the holocaster away. “All right, enough interruptions. Ready?”

    He nodded. “Ready.”

    “Then we begin!” And right off the bat, Clemont cast a spell that caused the whole room to become electrically charged. The aura of nearly everything but Calem was shifted over to Electric type.

    Okay, maybe this was a really bad idea. But he hadn’t known Clemont was capable of that, so Calem had to deal with the situation he was in. It seemed the main purpose of the enchantment was to prevent sleep status, but it seemed to be interacting with Clemont’s suit as well as making him have a higher awareness level too. Calem took a moment to use an evasion enchantment, since it was really important he not be hit here. Then he warped to the edge of Clemont’s peripheral vision and cast Water Pulse at him. It was a surprisingly strong hit; maybe his mechanical unit wasn’t entirely water proof. But then it became clear what the suit did with the electric terrain; it was slowly healing him as long as he was touching an electrified surface.

    And then Clemont actually hit him with a spell; the Shock Wave had come at Calem fast, but even when he warped to the side, it pursued him. It stung; something he could feel through half his body even with the spirit orb’s protection. But it didn’t break, meaning he was still in the fight. Although, any attack that connected now would easily take him out.

    He began to hear whispers to take Clemont out quickly, and powerfully so that he could kill him in spite of the spirit orb’s help. He tried to ignore them as he used Water Pulse again, but then he sensed fear from Clemont. This was it, the kind of thrill that his ancestors had chased after for generations. Even better, the confusion effect stuck, leaving Clemont to start panicking. He might even miss with that homing spell. Someone’s life was entirely at his mercy and the victim knew it. The intensity of this moment was something he could chase after his whole life, seeking to live it again and again, to win through ending lives.

    No, he needed to end this quickly but non-lethally. Clement could take him out instantly if he shook off that confusion and used Shock Wave again. But his spirit orb was at low energy too in spite of the continual healing, so Calem used Water Pulse once more. Might have been quicker to use the dagger, but this was a magic duel.

    Clemont’s spirit orb broke, restoring damage to both him and his suit while clearing up the confusion. Immediately, a black lizard Pokemon appeared by the Leader and tugged at his sleeve in concern. They both needed to calm down, so Calem took a deep breath before saying, “Wow, that was really close.”

    “No kidding,” Clemont said, putting a hand to his chest. “I’m okay, Lisk, really. Phew, excuse me for saying so, but I hope I don’t have a fight like that again.”

    “I’d feel the same, don’t worry,” he said.

    With a snap, Clemont caused Calem’s orb to break and heal him as well. “I can see that now. A number of us were worried about having someone like you compete. But Korrina and Sycamore spoke highly of you, as well as the other League members you’ve spoken with. I think we were right to trust you. Normally we’d applaud those who obviously have great power and skill, but I think you’ve done well in your restraint as well. For a moment, I knew you really could kill me in one strike even with the spirit orb.” His Pokemon (that was a Heliolisk, right?) bumped his head against Clemont’s arm, so he petted him.

    Calem nodded. “Thanks. My power is inherited, but restraint is what I’ve been learning.”

    “At any rate, you’ve done well and won, so you’ve earned my proof of magic.” Clemont deactivated his battle suit so he could take the proof pin out of his pocket. Due to his status as a mage and machinist, it looked rather like a piece of machinery. “Now that you have two, most low level Pokemon should come to respect you quickly and bookstores will be more willing to sell you spell books as it’s proof of your ability. Also, I can teach you one of the spells I used in battle if you want.”

    “Thanks. Actually, I think that homing spell will be useful to me.” Especially since, as spirits, the Asari were more than slightly affected by aura types. He also wanted to make sure Clemont knew he didn’t mean harm, so he added, “And hey, want to go to a café just to talk? I’m sure we could convince Sycamore to come.”

    He smiled and nodded. “Sure, that’d be fun.”

    As it turned out, Clemont and Shauna had been friends and neighbors when he had been in LMA, so sometimes the two of us would go by Prism Tower to talk with him. Bonnie was always something of a pain, but we became friends too after a while.
     
  12. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Chapter 26: Fairy Dance

    I was hoping to get my plans together quickly. Serena had told me that Lysandre planned on five years more and one of those was mostly by me when my fifth year of school ended. While I knew it would be tough, I wanted to get three more proofs during that summer. Three more gyms would give me extra challenge, although one had to wait for last. With that in mind, I requested to challenge Valerie on the first day of summer break.

    It happened to be raining when he arrived at the train station in Laverre. But even with the rain, this town had a way of being bright all the same. The weather seemed to make the colors more vibrant, especially in the flower gardens and mushroom patches. Many people walked the quaint streets, almost all of them with fanciful umbrellas to keep dry. As usual, Calem chose not to use one and walked to the gym while enjoying the weather.

    Valerie met him in the entrance room. This time, she was dressed in Japanese fashion; Calem wasn’t sure what to call it, but it was a nice purple with red flowers, and wide arms that almost looked like wings along with her usual wing accessory. She smiled as she curtsied to him. “Hello Calem, wonderful to see you again. You’ve grown nicely, although it’s a shame to hear what’s come to afflict you.”

    “I’m doing this to prove I won’t fall victim to it,” he said. “Thanks for accepting my challenge.”

    She nodded. “I’m glad to help, especially with someone who did so nicely in helping me. About this challenge, you may remember a bit of it but not all. As your third proof challenge, you may pick two of your Pokemon to accompany you through it, no more and no less. You will find me in my usual room, although the teleporters are arranged differently than when you were here.”

    “I was expecting that,” Calem said. It didn’t make sense for them to keep the layout exactly the same every year, as people would hear about it from others. And two of his Pokemon… it didn’t take him long to decide to call on Starlet and Yorick. The Mawile smiled at Valerie, a touch glad to see her again and a touch proud to be chosen for this. The Gengar quickly sunk into the shadows, observing.

    “There’s something else to the challenge,” Valerie said, after giving a wave to Starlet. “When you face me, I will have a barrier on me that will reduce any damage I take. It has several layers and once you enter battle, there will be no way to take out the barrier. But you have thirty minutes to reach me, so there might be something you could do about it before then.” She smiled. “Normally I’d give a couple extra hints, but in your case, you have to figure it out yourself.”

    “All right, I’ll do my best.”

    With that, she clapped her hands to summon a spirit orb for both of them. “Good, then I’ll be seeing you. The clocks will be keeping track of your time.” She curtsied again, then teleported out of the room on her own.

    Thirty minutes. There were nine rooms to the Gym itself, not counting the ones not open to the public but counting this entrance. While it shouldn’t take too much time to search nine rooms, there were also the teleporters to figure out plus whatever would affect her barrier. Due to the rain, his senses were sharp but he cast the heightened senses spell just in cast. Nothing stood out to him in the entrance, but he could tell which room the two active teleport pads would send him to. One would send him to another first floor room, while another would send him to the second floor. He took the former, waving for Starlet to follow him. Yorick should find him, if he wanted. If he didn’t, the Gengar would respond to his name.

    The teleporter sent him to the sewing room: it held a sewing machine, a loom, a basket of yarn, a drawer of supplies, and a number of colorful cloths hanging on the wall. Much of it had signs of being used. However, only the teleporters and one item had active magic on them. The one item was a small painting among a group of photographs. Even without a sense for aura, it might stand out for not being a photo. The photos were all of looms, some with people and some without. The painting also had a loom with a vibrant cloth in it, but the difference in medium was enough.

    Checking the painting, the spell seemed to be an illusion activated on touch. He wasn’t sure if breaking the enchantment would break the barrier right off, so he touched the frame. The room shimmered and after a moment, he and Starlet was in a different room. It looked much like the sewing room, but with a larger loom instead of a sewing machine. On it, there was the cloth that had been on the painting’s loom. There was even a basket of threads used for the cloth next to it.

    The illusion aura was everywhere as this wasn’t a real space. Something in here should affect the barrier, but what? It was masterful magic, as he couldn’t be sure. Maybe if he focused with the dagger… no, he’d take a look around first. What had the painting looked like? He looked back at the wall, only to find that the painting now showed the real sewing room. It was nearly identical to this illusionary room, aside from the big sewing machine being a loom and the yarn balls in the basket. Maybe those.

    He looked over the yarn, then the cloth in the loom. There, he found something inconsistent: the cloth had a floral pattern, but there was a noticeable patch where the flower in the design was red instead of blue. It was the only red one in the cloth so far. Hopefully he wouldn’t have to remake it, since he wasn’t sure how to weave. But the illusion was touched based, so he touched the red flower.

    It glowed briefly and summoned a trio of Floettes, two with red flowers and one with a blue flower. But they were all illusions, just like this room. After a cheery greeting, they wrapped themselves in energy and bounded around the room. Calem quickly figured out that he had to capture the blue flower Floette, so he did his best to follow that one. After half a minute, the three Floettes returned, still wrapped in energy. The shell game was simple; he picked out the blue one and Starlet quickly had it defeated in battle. That allowed the flower on the fabric to turn blue; a distant feeling seemed like one of the barriers had been broken.

    Returning to the sewing room, they found Yorick waiting on them, grinning wide. “We’ve got it, but you need to keep up so you can help too,” Calem said, patting him on the head. All of the teleporters in this room, save the one he came in, went to the second floor. He picked the room above this one.

    This brought him into a lovely kitchen, one that he knew was functional but was kept immaculately clean. But nothing in the room stood out like the painting before, so he took a teleporter down to the other first floor room. This was a parlor, complete with an antique Victrola record player and a grandfather clock; there was a record playing what seemed to be Japanese music, a little at odds with the decor. This room did have a number of paintings on the wall, with one having the illusion magic on it. Knowing what might come, Calem took a careful look at the painting before touching it. It looked like an exact replica of this room, except instead of a red and gold color scheme, the room in the painting was done in blue and silver.

    “Yorick, why don’t you try touching it?” Calem suggested.

    The Gengar chuckled and stretched up to tap it with a clawed hand. Like before, he and Yorick were transported into the illusionary room, but without Starlet this time. It didn’t take long to find another difference: this room was silent aside from the ticking of the grandfather clock. Calem went over and found that there was a record in the Victrola, with a label that looked like it might have Japanese on it. Or another Asian language, he wasn’t sure. He set it to play.

    At least two dozen Cleffa appeared in the room: bouncing on the sofa, dancing on the tables, scurrying around the floor. There were in an entire spectrum of colors too, even a pair in silver and gold twirling around in front of a mirror. One pale green one ran right into Calem’s foot and vanished; this did nothing to break a barrier or the illusion. Not only that, but a few of them were squealing in a manner that made an unpleasant feeling in his mind. Maybe some Fairy aura spell?

    Trying to ignore the mild pain, he put his hand on his head. “Okay… Cleffa are supposed to be…”

    He was about to say pink when Yorick raised a fist and launched himself across the room to punch the sole pink Cleffa hiding underneath a chair. Yorick then raised both fists in a victory pose as the Cleffas, the illusion room, and the barrier layer vanished. Reappearing in the actual parlor, Starlet glanced at them, raising an eyebrow at Yorick.

    “How did you do that so quickly?” Calem asked. But then a bit of thought came to him. “Wait, that was Sucker Punch, right? It always hits as long as… oh, so it would send you right at the right Cleffa because it was attacking. Guess I could have done the same with Shock Wave. Nice work there.”

    “Gwa hah,” Yorick replied, proud of himself.

    Two barriers seemed right for a third badge challenge, but Calem knew she might be giving him a tougher challenge due to his extra skills. For that reason, he made sure to check on the four other rooms. They next found the bathroom, which was clearly labeled as being unusable. No illusions were there, so they moved on through the teleporter to the study. It had been a nice room to work in, with the books kept behind protective glass that would hold up to any stray energy flying around in battle. In there, he found a teleporter to Valerie’s battle room (provided it was still the central room on the top floor), but no illusions. He skipped the battle room for the dining room instead.

    There were paintings on the wall, but no illusions. However, hovering over the elegantly set table, there was a Klefki holding a small glass orb on a chain among its collection of keys. The orb held Valerie’s magic, so it was something she had made. In the center of the table, there was a covered dish that she’d also enchanted, but not with the illusion or barrier magic. The Klefki clinked its keys and looked right at him.

    “Is this for something or a distraction?” Calem wondered aloud. The Klefki squeaked, then tried to knock the cover to the dish over. It couldn’t do so, but it seemed oddly interested in uncovering it. Glancing over the table, he noticed something didn’t quite look right: the silverware. “Wait, I don’t think this is right. I had to learn table setting when I worked here for this room. It was, er,”

    It had been a while ago, but he tried swapping a fork and spoon. That undid some of the dish’s enchantment, so he went around the table and checked on the settings. At one corner, there was a plate missing a napkin. At one in the center of a side, there was an extra knife that belonged at the plate to the left. The dish was no longer enchanted shut, so Calem lifted the lid to reveal a silver key formed like the silverware. The Klefki jangled in excitement, happily giving him the orb on its ring in exchange for the silver key.

    “Maaa wi,” Starlet called, pointing out one of the paintings on the wall. It showed what a proper table setting was, with silverware and dishes that matched what was on the table.

    “Oh, so there was a guide here,” Calem said. “Not sure what the orb is for, but I’m glad we made the little guy happy.”

    The Klefki was still dancing around in the air with the silver key, so they moved on to the bedroom. It was a lavish room, like a fairy tale princess’ room. Taking up a fair portion of the room was a canopy bed with rich purple drapes. A vanity sat on one side of the bed while a wardrobe carved with flowers and flower Pokemon sat on the other. Like the dining room and sewing room, this had been a tough room to battle in due to the layout. That was one advantage to challenging the gyms in the way he was.

    There were a number of paintings on the wall, including one with the illusion and barrier magic. So she did have an extra barrier layer. Looking at it, there didn’t seem to be a difference between that room and this one. Calem looked back over the real room, then down at his Pokemon. “You both coming this time?”

    They both agreed, with Starlet nodding and Yorick grinning wider. Calem touched the frame and sent them all into the illusion room. Again, it looked no different than the normal room. The aura was definitely full of illusions, so full that it was difficult to read anything but illusion. Something should give a clue of how to undo it. Watching the way aura moved, he tried to find an end or beginning to it. But it was such a hazy tangle.

    “Huh, looks like this one means to mess up anyone who has an aura sense,” Calem said, looking around. “You two are gonna have to help me figure this out; it’s confusing to me.”

    Yorick sank down into the floor and began sniffing around, while Starlet walked around near him to look over things. Calem tried opening up the wardrobe, but its door would not budge. Near the knob, there was a small keyhole. Maybe that had something to do with it? Yorick emerged from the middle of the bed, muttering. Since this might take a key, he walked around the bed while Starlet peered under it for some reason. The vanity seemed like the obvious place to put a key, so he tried the drawer and found that it did have a key, a silver one like the Klefki had taken. Yorick then called in triumph, pulling a key from under one of the pillows, while Starlet crawled out from under the bed with a third key.

    “Looks like we have to figure out the key now,” Calem said, kneeling down to take the key from Starlet as well as check her for any dust from crawling under there. It was a surprise that she’d done so, but with no dust it must have been clean. She had an iron key with a flower design on it, while Yorick had white key with an ornate handle.

    But the wardrobe had a pattern of flowers on it. He took the keys back over and put in the iron key, as its design matched the wardrobe. Clicking in place easily, it opened up the door to release a Dedenne illusion. Possible trouble for Calem, but none for his two Pokemon, allowing them to get back to the normal room. From there, they backtracked to the study in order to reach Valerie’s room.

    Compared to the other rooms, this one was simple. There was a large sculpture on the wall, matching the design of the gym’s badge and proof. On the floor, there were a couple of teleport pads. That was all; it had been left clear for the more challenging battles that took place here. In the back of the room, Valerie was waiting with a Mr. Mime and a Sylveon. “Are you done?” she asked. “There’s still a few minutes.”

    “I’m sure,” Calem said, as he didn’t sense any barriers in the room. However, the Mr. Mime excelled at barriers. It might be a good idea to take it out quickly once the battle begun, just so it didn’t start blocking damage.

    She took a few steps closer to get in place with her Pokemon. “As you might have guessed, this challenge was to test your perception.” She snapped her fingers, causing the Klefki’s orb to float away from him before shattering. It decreased the amount of damage her spirit orb could take. “And your kindness has even given you a small bonus. But you still must win this battle. Three against three, the Trainer and two Pokemon each. The first side to lose all three members loses. Is your side ready to begin?”

    He glanced at his two Pokemon. Yorick winked while Starlet nodded solemnly, watching Valerie. “Yes, we are.”

    Bringing a red orb into existence, Valerie said. “All right, then when the light goes green, we begin.” It flashed red a few times, then yellow, and finally green.

    “After the Mime,” Calem commanded, using Shock Wave to make sure he hit him.

    Yorick followed up by firing a venomous spike in Poison Jab at the shocked Mr. Mime, knocking him out before he could do anything. Starlet was still preparing, so she switched her target to Valerie to bash her steel jaw into the Leader’s side. Valerie had already cast a spell that turned the floor into a grassy field. However, this wasn’t an illusion; it was an enchantment that seemed to have a healing effect attached to it. At her side, the Sylveon was tapping its front paws, charging up some spell aimed at him. Calem warped out of the way to Yorick’s other side, quickly weighing the choices.

    “Confuse Valerie, then focus on the Sylveon,” Calem said, preparing his own Water Pulse spell to use against the latter. That status effect would help them immensely.

    Then a glint like moonlight appeared around the Sylveon and before he could warp again, the pink and white Pokemon blasted him with a beam of Fairy energy. His spirit orb shattered immediately, although the aftereffects of the attack left him lightheaded. Since he was out of the fight, he warped back into one of the corners to keep out of the way. Yorick and Starlet were on their own now. He trusted both of them to hold their own, but would they work together?

    After a brief moment of concern, Yorick used Confuse Ray on Valerie. That should make it harder for her to cast properly, as one of the big dangers was Valerie using a Psychic spell on the Gengar. Since this gym had once been classified as Psychic, she had to know several. Would the Sylveon know Psychic skills too? He hadn’t worked much with them.

    Starlet pulled her steel jaw over her head, calling something to Yorick before dancing aside and striking the Sylveon with her jaw. With the Steel aura she’d gathered, it should hurt the Sylveon a lot. Yorick slipped into the floor, then used Poison Jab against the Sylveon as well, almost taking it out of the fight too. Calem smiled, relieved that the two were cooperating in order to win the battle for him.

    Without warning, anger clutched at his thoughts and tinged his vision. Calem dug his nails into his palms and closed his eyes. ‘I am not killing anyone here.’

    Why are you being a coward and keeping out of the fight? For that matter, why be so stupid as to start a battle face to face with your opponent? That’s not what our skills are for.

    “This isn’t a battle for our skills,” Calem said quietly. “And I’m not breaking the rules.”

    Battles should not have rules. It’s a violent means to prove your strength, so it’s naïve to cover it up by making sure everyone survives unharmed.

    “You don’t understand,” Calem started to say, but then things like memories appeared in his thoughts. Not his memories, though. These were memories of the Asari, many rapid short fights with others that ended in the death of the opponent. Even some of his family’s final moments, against powerful foes they willingly sought out and lost against in order not to grow old and weak. Or a son against a father, proving his deadly skill by slaying the one who taught him. That was how they expected his battle against Heinrich to go.

    “Calem?” Valerie called to him, as the battle seemed to be over. She was there without her spirit orb, but her Sylveon wasn’t around. Already by his side, Starlet didn’t seem too hurt while Yorick was pushing himself to remain conscious.

    Before he realized it, he’d summoned the dagger to his right hand and was trying to straighten up from leaning on the wall. Calem clenched the dagger, but forced himself to keep it down and caused his hand to tremble. The eldest Asari still had a connection to him. You have no choice, boy, and I’ll take you over if I have to make you join us.

    Valerie seemed remarkably calm as she studied him, especially how he held the dagger. She gave him a smile that looked a little sad, then lifted her hands and started to dance. Why dance when he was struggling to keep control of himself? Then her aura intensified, pulling strongly on the Fairy type. It had to be some kind of attack. Perhaps the official battle was over, but she was going to defend herself.

    Just behind her, the green circle of a warp position appeared. ******, move before she hits you!

    No. Calem was certain that this was going to hurt, but it’d hurt the Asari more. Not able to send the dagger away quite yet, he stood his ground. At the last moment, he thought to mentally reach out and force the connection to remain active, just in case the spirit tried to escape. Thoughts of curses filled his mind as Valerie’s spell hit him like a twirling dance of many Clefairies. That was a pleasant thought, but this was a sickening feeling through his body. But it was far worse for the Asari spirit, who wrenched himself out of Calem’s aura and cut the connection to get away from it.

    Valerie immediately stopped dancing and changed to a neutral healing spell instead. “I’m sorry, but it was necessary,” she said.

    Even with the healing, his legs felt weak. Calem sunk to the floor, clasping Starlet’s hand for reassurance. “It’s okay… you did a lot worse to him, thank you.”

    “Kuuur,” Starlet cooed, making sure her steel jaw was out of the way to hug him.

    “It’s not often I get thanked for attacking someone,” Vlaerie said in amusement. “Well your darling Pokemon have won the match for you. They coordinated with each other wonderfully once you had to step back; I should let you borrow a tape of it so you can see. Especially Starlet.” She smiled warmly at the Mawile and patted her steel jaw. “You’ve become a wonderful little lady, and I’m proud to see you come so far.”

    Starlet blushed at the praise, but smiled all the same.

    -+-

    Since he’d been unable to pay attention to half the battle, Calem and Valerie had to discuss what spell she’d teach him in honor of his win. He thought that casting illusions would be fun, but technically that hadn’t happened during the battle. In the end, he went with the one spell he’d seen her use, Grassy Terrain. Mortan knew it too, but for these days when the Floette wasn’t around, it’d be useful if he knew it too. Thinking on how the battle went, it might end up being something he would start off with in case he got knocked out quickly, to continue supporting his Pokemon. It seemed like any time he actually got hit, he’d be out of the battle before long. Then should he work on trying to better his defense or continue on with the swiftstep to avoid being hit at all?

    Calem thought over that while walking through the Laverre streets. The morning rain had ended, so he could go ahead with his plan to have a picnic lunch with his Pokemon. And since Yorick and Starlet had won even when he’d been defeated, it’d be nice to buy some treats for them in one of the local shops. Would he stay later on? Valerie had mentioned that since the rains would only last in the morning, this might be a good night to hike out to where a group of Clefairies would appear on nights of the full moon to dance. Other Fairy Pokemon might join them and he’d never managed to see it while he’d been working at her Gym. But then again, considering how her dance had affected him, maybe it wasn’t a good idea. The picnic was a good idea because they’d enjoy it and…

    His thoughts were immediately disrupted when he spotted Team Flare’s bright red moving through the people ahead of him. It was a man in their signature uniform: ruby-red sunglasses, brightly dyed hairstyle, and all. What were they doing here? Calem started trailing him, pausing by a large sign when the man stopped to talk with some others. He had some pamphlets and a heavy bag over his shoulder, so it might just be one of them out to get new members. But even that was trouble.

    “Careful Calem,” a quiet but familiar voice said just behind him.

    But there wasn’t anyone behind him… Calem turned and saw that he was standing by a fenced in garden. There wasn’t a human in the garden, but his Phantump was hovering in the air there, looking at him in concern. “Heinrich?” he asked quietly. “You can talk?”

    He nodded with the sound of dry wood. “It’s hard to put sounds together, but I remember the words. Didn’t want to speak until I had a better grasp on it.” He floated over to the signpost. “Might be useful to speak to him, but keep your temper. He’s not your target.”

    “Right,” Calem said, looking back over to the recruiter. He seemed to be losing the interest of the pair he stopped.

    “Relax your body,” Heinrich said. “Don’t give away your alertness to him and don’t try to argue with him here. There are times when this is far more useful than just jumping in.”

    He nodded, then smiled at the Phantump. “I know. Time to make up for being an awful teacher?”

    He laughed at that, shaking some of his branches. “I’ll be awful if it gets what I want; it worked with you and the other two.”

    With the joking around lifting his spirits, Calem stretched his arms and soon had himself relaxed as if this were any other day. He walked over to the Flare recruiter with Heinrich following close by, pausing a few feet away. The recruiter must have seen him, but didn’t speak to him immediately. Because of that, he started the conversation with, “Hey, what’s going on with the costume?”

    “It’s no costume,” the recruiter said. If he was insulted by that, he didn’t show it. “It’s the daring and unique style of Team Flare. Got your attention, didn’t it?”

    “I guess, but it reminds me a stop sign,” he said, causing Heinrich to snicker. “You’d have to be pretty confident to go out like that.”

    That made the recruiter smile. “Well of course, and we have every reason for confidence. Ever worry about the future of the world in the state it’s in? We don’t have to worry, as we’re going to fix things up proper. But it could be dangerous times ahead anyhow. Say boy, how old are you?”

    “I’ll be seventeen in a couple of weeks,” he said. Since Serena had taken off to join Flare on her seventeenth birthday, he had a feeling that might be more tempting to the recruiter than simply saying that he was sixteen.

    “I was wondering because we have an age limit on joining, but you’re close enough that you might get in,” the recruiter said. “And you really should consider doing so; the next few years are going to get tumultuous, and being with Flare will make sure that you’re safe.”

    “Why do you think there’s going to be trouble?” Calem asked, trying to sound innocently curious. “Things are peaceful now; haven’t heard of much trouble being around.”

    “We’re in the calm before the storm, so to speak. But the world’s reached a threshold it’s never hit before. There are so many people and Pokemon around that competition is heating up for space and resources. It might not seem so bad here, but we’re in an advanced region where people tend to share. In many other regions of the world, widespread violence comes out every day, in conflicts over resources, land, and ideas. There is not a lot we can do immediately about the last issue, but if we work towards fixing the first two deficiencies, then the last problem will be closer to resolving itself as there’s less triggers for arguments and conflicts.”

    “I don’t think there’s that much violence in the world,” Calem said. “You hear about it occasionally, not every day.”

    The recruiter shook his head. “You won’t be hearing about all of the conflicts, believe me. A lot of people try covering them up and pretending they don’t exist, since then they don’t have to do anything to help. But we in Team Flare have plans to fix these basic problems before long, thus helping to fix other problems over time.”

    “What do you mean to do about such problems, though?” Calem asked. “They’re rather large things to tackle.”

    “Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We can’t reveal all of our plans to the general public right away, but if you join us in the next few months, you’ll definitely be hearing about them straight from our leaders. And it’s nothing big to the individual either. We all do our parts, no matter how small, to make a series of events that’s greater than what any one of us does on our own. After all, any problem is solvable when you get smooth teamwork to tackle it, where everyone is cooperating in purpose, spirit, and action. That’s the way to get anything done.”

    As much as he didn’t like agreeing with them, he had to admit that this sounded perfectly fine. Teamwork was essential. But, did each of the small parts know what the overall plan would lead to? Serena didn’t know everything and she was supposedly a vital part in awakening the legends. “Well if I don’t know what you’re doing, it’s hard to agree to go along with you,” Calem said.

    “We’re fixing global problems, that’s what we’re doing,” the recruiter said, giving him a pamphlet. “There’s still a lot of bad in the world and we’re making it good instead. That has some more information than what I’m allowed to say, you really should read it.”

    “I guess, thank you,” Calem said, taking it. He then moved on down the road, towards a large fence that surrounded what seemed to be a factory.

    “He seems to believe it,” Heinrich said.

    “So did Serena,” Calem said, opening up the pamphlet and skimming through it. It had some short horror piece based on the problem of overpopulation and finding the resources to support everyone, as well as bits against people saying ‘not my problem since it doesn’t affect me’ by aiming to prove that these issues affected everyone. Other paragraphs repeated that Team Flare would make sure its own people were safe and taken care of even with the coming years of turbulence they were predicting. This had been going on for months, but this pamphlet claimed that there would come signs from nature and the gods of the dangers approaching. Flare had Xerneas and Yveltal, though. Did they mean to force the two gods to talk for them? But how?

    “Something’s going on back there,” Heinrich said, from past the fence he had drifted through.

    “Is there?” Calem asked, turning from the silly pamphlet to the factory behind him. He made sure to refresh his heightened senses and noticed a lot of people there. That wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. “What are you sensing?”

    “Tension, aggression, fear,” the Phantump said. “While we’ve not been around this factory much, that doesn’t seem normal for any factory.”

    “You’re right about that,” he said, trying to find those feelings. Before then, he noticed an unremarkable white truck lumbering down the road towards the gate. It looked normal, but Calem saw the red sunglasses on the driver and passenger as they came by. “They are up to something. Should we go in and take a look?”

    “Do you feel confident in your stealth?” he asked, moving forward. Calem glanced around, making sure no one was paying particular attention to him. Then he activated the cowl and warped past the fence, sneaking around with Heinrich in the shadows.

    Using swiftstep through a wall was something he hadn’t tried, although he had passed trees in that manner. The walls of this factory were thick, not easy to sense through. Eventually, he found some vents that one could peek into the main building through. That was easier to sense past and send a warp target through, so they entered there. Inside, it was strangely quiet. There were a lot of massive machines, some like huge bins and others holding lots of precision arms for the process of manufacturing. But whatever they made, there wasn’t a lot around. He did spot a defect bin, where he discovered a collection of problematic Pokeballs.

    There was a group by one of the doors, their conversation hard to hear over this distance even with enhanced hearing. Calem warped over and ducked behind some conveyor belt machinery to listen in; Heinrich followed after, but sneaked to another location for a different view. In the group, he noticed a few people in work clothes, including one who seemed to be a supervisor over the rest. They were talking to three of the Team Flare scientists, including the pair he ran into in Winding Woods and the one he’d seen with Mabel and Lysandre when Serena died. A flicker of anger came to his mind on recognizing her, but he tried to clamp down on it and listen.

    “Good, you’ve finally gotten a suitable amount for us,” the red-haired scientist said. “But with the margin of error on your products, this may not be the last time we need to get your assistance.”

    “Are you going to let the workers go now?” the supervisor asked, nervous and ashamed.

    “Sure, since you’ve finally come around to seeing the advantages to working with us instead of overcharging,” she said. “And you will cut costs for us again if we return?”

    “You didn’t give us anything for our entire stock,” the supervisor said, like he could be outraged by this implied theft but something made him afraid of these women.

    “We didn’t hurt anyone,” the scientist said in an unnecessarily harsh tone. “That could still change.”

    “At-cost, possibly,” the supervisor said. “Okay, it will be at cost and we’ll make sure to reserve at least one crate in case your group comes back.”

    “It had better be a fair price when the future of the world is at stake,” she said, then departed.

    “What about our workers?” the supervisor said.

    “The guys watching over them will be last to leave,” she said, just before leaving the building.

    Heinrich appeared by Calem’s side. “Not sure if there’s anything we could do. If we came earlier, we might have intervened.”

    He didn’t like it, but nodded and held a hand up to wait. After making sure that the factory workers were released unharmed, Calem decided to leave the building and grounds before he was spotted. Back in Laverre, he told his great-grandfather, “It’s terrible that we were too late, but it seems they took the factory’s entire supply of Pokeballs by holding the workers hostage.”

    “Right, but why?” That puzzled him.

    “I’m not sure either.” And since he’d seen the end of it, what did he do about knowing it?

    I ended up telling Professor Sycamore, since that made most sense to me. The Pokeball Factory in Laverre adamantly denied that the hostage situation and theft had occurred, even when Sycamore asked directly about it. Team Flare still had something over them to keep them quiet, even now. However, news did get out about a Pokeball shortage in Kalos and surrounding regions for that summer, and part of that autumn. Official word said that it was a major problem forcing them to recycle their entire stock.

    And I could have guessed what they wanted all those Pokeballs for, since I already knew it. It would be a while before I finally made that connection.
     
  13. I can't remember whether you do this before or after the Gym in-game- either way, doing it out of order wouldn't have helped. That's Santalune->Lumiose->Laverre so far, right? With Coumarine last... Hm.
     
  14. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Chapter 27: Earth Melody

    One of the harder proofs for me to get was Korrina’s as my fourth. I could do the challenge, which for her required running an obstacle course on skates where passing some obstacles required spellwork. Much like my test for entering the Battle Club, the mechanisms would open upon being hit by a particular kind of spell. But battling her was a different story. I was allowed one of my Pokemon to take down her and three of her Pokemon.

    The first time I challenged her, I brought Percival. He knew Aerial Ace, among other skills that would come in handy when they wouldn’t be able to touch him with moves with a Fight aura. But, that wasn’t enough when Korrina could get by that and take him down herself. That attempt failed. The second time, I briefly considered Starlet, but ending up trying Nibbles. That was a mistake that cost that match as her second Pokemon turned out to be a Hawlucha. Thus, on my third attempt, I brought Starlet.


    “Let’s rumble!” Korrina called in glee, starting the battle.

    Before they had even started the obstacle course, Calem had told Starlet what to do. Time was of the essence here and he had to quickly hit Korrina with Confuse Ray in an attempt to keep her from casting her anti-teleport curse. If that got put down, he was more or less out of the battle in seconds. The leader got hit with his curse in time, giving them some room to work with in this attempt.

    Meanwhile, Starlet had body slammed the Mienfoo that Korrina started with, her aura sparkling with bright pink. That knocked the Mienfoo out. Giving up on casting for the moment, the leader brought out her Hawlucha. She pointed towards Calem before slipping on her skates. That put some damage to her spirit orb; very little damage, but his current strategy was on taking out the Pokemon before Korrina fully recovered from the confusion. He set up Grassy Terrain before warping out of the Hawlucha’s jumping attack, causing it to crash into the wall of this lower skate arena. Starlet pursued the colorful bird with the same attack as before, causing feathers to fly in result.

    Korrina wasn’t doing anything to contribute to the battle now, just trying to break from her confusion state as she released her final Pokemon without even checking if the Hawlucha was down fully. It was a Machoke, giving Calem a slight feeling of relief. It could have been one of her Lucario, which would have been a lot harder to take down. Still, the Machoke line had quite a variety of moves from what he recalled, so it might have something to deal with a Mawile.

    Calem warped back by Starlet and the Hawlucha. Meanwhile, the Machoke was waiting a moment; he was eager to jump into the battle, but mindful enough of gym rules to wait until it was properly his turn. Calem used Shock Wave to take down the Hawlucha, since it was hanging on in a slight daze. “Keep it up,” he told Starlet, then warped away to force the Machoke to pick a direction to go in taking on two targets.

    Unfortunately, Korrina recovered. Calem briefly considered confusing her again, but decided to use flash instead, messing up her and her Machoke’s accuracy with the bright light. The Machoke went after him, so he warped so he was just out of the path between the burly Pokemon and Starlet. As it worked to change directions, the Mawile met with it at full force, causing the two to brawl it out. Confident in her, Calem focused his attention to Korrina and keeping her busy.

    She apparently decided to give up on pinning him down for the moment and dashed after him, building up some kind of Fight energy. Calem warped a few feet back, then angled his path towards the wall. When he moved further away hoping to use her momentum against her, Korrina made a sharp turn on her skates and had to spend a second relocating him. He could attack, but felt it was better to keep moving with this chase until Starlet was free to join him. Since Korrina seemed to be trying to use a physical move with aura energy, she would have to make contact.

    Korrina then swapped the gathered energy over to Dark type and cast the anti-teleport spell aimed directly at him. Well that was out, making it down to how well he could skate now. As she rushed right for him, Calem took off quickly on his skates while preparing Shock Wave. Before she could reach him, Starlet careened into Korrina. The Mawile had been using her Play Rough enchantment exclusively, but that was because it was working great here. While Korrina worked to get her balance back before she slipped again, Calem released Shock Wave to strike her.

    That demolished the spirit orb she had. Calem immediately felt his ancestor’s urging to keep the battle going. But he was expecting it this time, thus it was weaker than when he’d faced Valerie. Ignoring the words in his head entirely, he said, “Good going, Starlet! We finally got her.”

    “Yeah, that was awesome!” Korrina said, making a sign of approval with her hands. “Nice seeing you finally pull it off; I knew that warping was one of your top advantages, but so are your Pokemon.”

    “Right, we know each other enough that I didn’t have to lead her,” he said, skating over. Starlet was smiling proudly, which she had every right to be having taken on the Fighting Pokemon at their own game in physical combat.

    Korrina twirled a hand around and made the pin appear to hand over to him. “And now you have half of Kalos’ proofs! Excellent job; I’m proud of you. But you still have a lot of work ahead of you taking on the other half.”

    “I’m sure of that,” Calem said. The first half was something that a student in his school should be able to pass just fine. Past that, it would take more skill. He hoped he had it; he was counting on it.

    She passed the pin over, then said, “Want to learn one of my spells from any of our matches? Course, I’m almost sure of what you’d ask for.”

    “The anti-teleport curse?” he said, grinning. “That’s really going to help me the most.”

    Snapping her fingers, she said, “I knew it! Sure; I used Mean Look this time, but since you’re my apprentice, I’ll go ahead and teach you the field version as well. Only humans can cast that one, although some Pokemon can mimic it in abilities.”

    For this summer, he was still working with Korrina and her grandfather, but not as often as last summer. He had the rest of the day off, although not entirely free. On leaving the gym, he found his three friends waiting on him. “How’d it go this time?” Shauna asked, waving him to come over and join them.

    “Got it this time!” he replied, jogging over to them.

    “Woo, I knew you could do it!” she shouted, jumping in place.

    “Really wish we could’ve seen that match,” Tierno said. “Did she get video of it?”

    “More than likely, since all the matches are recorded,” Calem said. “Most matches get deleted since they’re not of interest to many, though it should be available for a few days.”

    “Maybe if we’re lucky, she’ll have it as a featured match on her gym’s webpage,” Trevor said. “But it shouldn’t be hard to find there even if not.”

    “It’d be unusual, but maybe,” Calem said.

    “So did you decide on what to do today?” Shauna asked.

    They had decided to meet up for his birthday, so he got to decide what they would do. Knowing the others were interested in a particular event (and being interested himself), he said, “Yeah, let’s go check out the festival at the Gogoat ranch. That should be fun.”

    “All right!” Shauna said, happy that they were going with that.

    Just outside of Shalour, there was a river mouth that often ran deep, save for occasional very low tides. It usually required a short swim or small boat to cross safely, to the point where someone at the edge of town ran a successful ferry service with a couple of Lapras. But due to the celebration at the Gogoat ranch, there was a temporary floating bridge set up with some crate panels. The ranch itself wasn’t far from the river, on a raised portion of land where there was lots of grassy smooth plain for the Pokemon to graze and relax.

    Today was a festival that was mostly to promote the ranch’s business, like the goods they made with the Gogoat’s milk and fur. Or how they trained the taxi Gogoats in Lumiose, sending some of their most prized Pokemon there to be admired. It was a fun event, with games, booths, a race track, and even a riding trail, all made with the Skiddo and Gogoats in mind. The ranch Pokemon were friendly too, not minding the many people walking around their home nor the other Pokemon following Trainers about.

    After having lunch there (including a small cake that his mother had sent along with Shauna), they paid the small fee to take some of the Gogoats out on the hiking trail. It was a nice ride with fun conversations, but then something out of the ordinary happened. AZ appeared at the edge of the trail. As he waved, Calem got the Gogoats to slow down by gently tugging the horns on his. “Hey, Jack! Good to see you!”

    “Yeah, it’s been a really long time!” Shauna said. “You weren’t at the house when I last went there.”

    “Hello,” he said, smiling. “I’m not living there right now. They’ll be expecting you back, right? I happened to hear you as I was passing through; could you meet me down the road, where it turns away from the river? There’s something I’d like to talk with you all about.”

    “Sure, we can be there in a few minutes,” Calem said, wondering if he meant to tell them about who he was. Or if he’d gotten in contact with Zygarde.

    “Yeah, we’ll be there,” Trevor said. “Great to see you again.”

    After returning the Gogoats to their handler, the four of them left the festivities and went down the road. There was a huge tree at the corner of the road, enough that AZ managed to sit by it and some bushes to go unnoticed by others on the road. But they found him there, and sat with him to talk. Mortan was there too. “Chiirro!” he called cheerfully, soon echoed by Trevor’s Flabebe Coco. She started teasing him, so he hid on AZ’s shoulder.

    “What’re you doing with Mortan?” Tierno asked.

    “I haven’t told them about the two of you yet,” Calem said.

    “Huh, what about them?” Shauna asked before AZ could start talking. She leaned forward in interest.

    “He was a Pokemon I knew long ago, my dearest friend,” AZ said as Mortan crept to his other shoulder, trying to avoid Coco. “Although I knew him as Lukan. You see, I’m AZ, who you might know as the wandering king.”

    “What?” the other three asked in amazed shock. So they had to explain about it to them.

    “Calem figured it out with his Asari powers,” AZ finished off with. “And I knew another Asari many years ago, so I’ve been able to help him fight his curse. At the moment, I’m working on another problem. You must have heard that two gods of our land have gone missing in the presence of Team Flare. Do you know about the god Zygarde?”

    “Enough to know that there isn’t a lot of information on him,” Tierno said. “He rules the land and isn’t seen often.”

    “There’s a few stories that his memory extends into the future,” Trevor said. “And that he keeps watch over the balances in the world, trying to correct any imbalances. From Serena’s writings, we know that Lysandre is using Zygarde as an excuse for his actions, claiming that he’s trying to appease Zygarde before the dragon god does something drastic.”

    AZ nodded. “Right, so I’ve been meaning to speak to Zygarde in person. He’s usually underground and I have my own reasons for avoiding Flare. But today, I managed to locate Zygarde above ground. He’s not too far from here, actually. I was going on my own with Lukan and my other Pokemon, but then I heard you four and felt there might be a reason for you all to be here when I happen to find Zygarde. Would you like to come along with me?”

    On hearing that, Calem immediately wondered why Zygarde had come aboveground when the other two gods had gone missing. “We’re here because I’m training at the Tower of Mastery and we wanted to get together today, basically.”

    “But we did happen to come across you today, so it might be more than coincidence,” Shauna said. “That’s be cool to meet with Zygarde. What do you guys think?”

    “I’m interested in hearing what he has to say,” Calem said.

    “Right, with all that’s going on, he might know something to help us out,” Trevor said.

    “Sure, it’s not like you get this kind of chance any day,” Tierno said.

    AZ nodded and got up. “Good. We need to head out into the sea, but it won’t be far.”

    “How’re we getting over the water?” Trevor asked.

    “Don’t worry, I’ve got that covered,” he said, leading the way down the road.

    Just outside of the Coumarine port, AZ brought out what seemed to be a small toy boat carved out of a piece of wood, with a little scrap fabric sail. He mumbled for a moment, something about hoping the enchantment would work one last time, then tossed the boat onto the water with an activation spell. It turned into a full sized sailboat, still with a spotted blue sail and carved wood appearance. Since it was large enough to handle AZ easily, there was no trouble having four extra passengers as long as they kept their larger Pokemon in their Pokeballs. AZ sent them into the northern sea with a wind spell of his own, but the natural wind quickly picked them up and helped them along.

    There were a number of sandbars and small islands scattered off the coast. On the way to their destination, AZ pointed out one island larger than the rest. It was like a large rock was rising out of the water, surrounded by a rocky sand beach. It seemed like it might be a cave from some shadows. “That place is special too. On occasion, some rare bird Pokemon come through Kalos and always nest in this area. They’re of legendary status because they’re hardly ever seen by humans. They don’t speak, but they seem to me like they could be more intelligent than us.”

    “Wow, what kind of Pokemon are they?” Trevor asked, fascinated.

    “There’s a few different ones, but they seem related,” AZ said. “Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres are the ones I’ve run into at various times, but I’ve heard that some other rarities have been seen around this part of the sea as well. Even I’m not sure what makes this place special to them, whether it was something innate about it or if it became special because legends and gods would meet here.”

    That made Shauna laugh. “Well we’ve got a legend and a god meeting here today too, because of you and Zygarde!” It embarrassed AZ a little, but he was smiling a lot today. Calem had the feeling that if anyone saw him like this, they wouldn’t need powers like his to suspect that there was more to him than his vagabond appearance would tell.

    They sailed to another large rocky island, although this one seemed too uneven to have a large cave like the other might. As they got closer, they could hear something in the air. It was hard to distinguish at first, but on approaching a patch of sand that looked safe, the sound turned out to be music. The voice was deep and powerful, making Calem wonder if this was how opera singers sounded. The further they got down the sandy path, the clearer it became and the more the sound waves vibrated within them.

    Surrounded by tall jagged rocks, they found the singer: it was Zygarde himself. He was holding himself up tall, his body flat where it lay on the ground. His vibrant green scales blended in with the lush grasses on this island, although a spread of black frills around his neck would make him stand out in the daytime like this. While the song he sang was something they couldn’t understand (although it seemed like it should be understood by someone), it carried emotions that could be understood: a loneliness as if someone important wasn’t showing up when they should, an anxiety at knowing something bad could happen soon, an encouragement to the self that one should keep moving ahead in the hope that something good would also come. Calem had a feeling that even if Zygarde departed after his song, they had still learned something valuable in that alone.

    But Zygarde stayed once he was done with the song, looking down at them in the moment of silence after his breathtaking performance. Shauna was the first to break it by saying, “Wow, that was amazing. I didn’t know what you were singing, but it nearly made me cry.”

    “Aw shucks, thank you for your compliment,” Zygarde said, shifting himself backwards so he could lower his head to AZ’s level at least. “This is not the time for it, but I have dreamed of being in concert to sing. It would shock many.” He sounded pleased at that idea. “You came for reasons other than song.”

    “Yes, Zygarde, it’s about Xerneas and Yveltal,” AZ said. “They’ve been captured those who seem to be planning to repeat a disaster. I’ve been trying to locate them, and I believe these young people can help as well. Do you know of anything to help us?”

    Zygarde’s collar of frills shifted like a wave. “Repeat a disaster? No, no, that’s not what I sense. If it repeats, it’s because what they mean to do has fallen through. But what they mean to do...” he grumbled for a moment, then added, “I would like to remain a mystery, an enigma that humans won’t touch because they can’t understand. It allows me to do my work untroubled. But someone thinks he’s found the enigma’s solution. Might be right, might be wrong, but the zealousness fueled by that solution is a danger to more than just my pride. So for this once, for all of you… the music of your auras please me, so I will be clear with you. Just this once.”

    That surprised even AZ. “Thank you, we appreciate that.”

    “We’ll do what we can to help you, and Kalos,” Calem said, getting nods of agreement from his friends.

    “Beautiful, maybe I can have a concert one day,” Zygarde said, his black eyes twinkling. “In the past year, seven miracles have spread through Kalos. Do you know of them?”

    “Seven miracles?” AZ asked, unsure.

    “Oh yeah, Serena got seven miracle flowers when she awoke Xerneas,” Trevor said, bringing a hand up. “One of them changed an aura instability I had into an instability that makes flowers appear any time I use magic.”

    Tierno nodded. “Right, and I used one to wake her father from a coma.”

    “I still have the one she gave me,” Shauna said, touching the pin where she kept it on her shirt. “And I’m pretty sure that Serena was buried with one of them; it was still on her headband at the funeral.”

    “I used one to turn my great-grandfather’s spirit into a Phantump,” Calem said. “And, I saw the petals spread from another one in the cave where… they awakened Yveltal with it, I’m sure.”

    “That’s six, so what happened to the seventh?” AZ asked.

    The four of them looked at each other. “I’m not sure,” Shauna said.

    “Think about it,” Zygarde said.

    As much as he didn’t like to, Calem tried to recall that terrible night. That told him what might have happened to it. “I… I was shown her death and she was wearing three of the flowers when she took one to awaken Yveltal. And then when I saw her in person a short time later, there were the petals from the one and one left on her hairband. So Lysandre or one of the Flare scientists has it now if I remember that right.”

    “That’s right,” Zygarde said. “Two have yet to produce miracles.”

    “Don’t you mean three?” Trevor asked.

    “I mean two. One miracle won’t show its results for a while. With two unused flowers moving around Kalos, it’s unclear what will happen in the near future. And because of those miracle flowers, I’m now fated to cross paths with Flare. I can deny any appointments I sense; I could have denied this one with you, but I believe it will help greatly. But this one with Flare, I can delay it for a time but it must happen at this point. That is why I think, even as they work to make your dangerous flower bloom again, it won’t be the same as last time.”

    “Are they planning to use you with that machine?” Tierno asked.

    Zygarde nodded. “That’s what their movements tell me. As my rule is not of life or death, it will be harder to describe but still devastating. We can delay it as hard as we can, but the miracle flowers make extraordinary things happen no matter how careful we act. The best method for preventing this now would be to take control of all three remaining miracles and then stopping them. So miss, be sure to not lose the one you have.”

    “Right, I’ll be careful,” Shauna said. “But which one has been used? It’ll be hard to get one from Lysandre, and I don’t know how Serena’s parents will react if we ask to get that flower back.”

    “You should check on her regardless, with or without their agreement,” Zygarde said. “By the golden light of the moon, I have seen something coming that has never been seen before, coming from another mortal attempt to tame the power of the gods. The tiny one with us won’t be the only one with a black flower on that night and the city known for the brilliance of its lights will be filled with darkness. But that’s the future, so there is not much certain beyond that.” Mortan murmured something, but he was perched on AZ’s shoulder so Calem couldn’t hear what.

    “Should we be trying to get the one Lysandre has or attempt to get it to trigger on something else?” AZ asked. “I know they’re unpredictable, yet they do take a form suggested by the intent of their holder.”

    “I suppose you could destroy the key you hold and see if they use the flower to get access to the machine,” Zygarde said. “Then again, they may have a way to circumvent the locks placed by you. They’ve already broken the ones set by your brother. But like you said, intent is important and his intent speaks strongly to me. You should hang onto the key in case you need to retake control of it, that’s what I think. And you, young Asari.”

    “What about me?” Calem asked.

    “I believe your plans have merit, but you had best get them together before your last year of school. Or better yet, before the night of the golden moon and the black flowers. All of you will be tested to your limits on that night.”

    “Do you meant the harvest moon?” Trevor asked. “That’s in September this year, I believe.”

    “This year?” Zygarde tilted his head. “The moon is right for my vision, but I don’t believe the sun is. The flowers don’t speak of it coming so soon either; neither does a friend of mine. While the night of darkness may yet be prevented if you can claim the remaining miracles, that appointment of fate is still quite strong.”

    “Well part of my plans include finding Xerneas and Yveltal, hopefully to free them,” Calem said. “How can we find them?”

    “Your powers, sensitive though they may be, may not be enough. In that case, you must observe what you can sense. Life and death go on regardless of their presence or absence, but they don’t go on smoothly. Or even logically in some cases. Listen to what the flowers have to say, of where the forces of life are strongest. Search for unnatural patterns, in troublesome births and restless spirits. The powers of Xerneas and Yveltal once spread throughout our homeland and are now concentrated to small points. Where those powers are weak and where they are strong, that is how you can find them.”

    “What are you planning to do?” AZ asked, looking down at Calem.

    “Become the Magic Champion of Kalos,” he said. “It’s a hard challenge especially since I haven’t finished at school yet, but I hope it proves to my ancestors that I can use their powers without killing. And having that position should give me respect even in Team Flare, so I should be able to confront them more effectively.”

    And taking into account what Zygarde was saying, he’d need to win the title before fall of next year. It was sooner than he was planning, meaning he’d have to challenge gyms through his sixth year rather than waiting for the next summer. But if that’s what it would take, he’d do what was needed.

    -+-

    The day after they met Zygarde, Calem met up with his friends at a cemetery off Route 7. It was the first time he’d visited Serena’s grave, but the other three knew where it was. She hadn’t been buried like the others here, as she’d been placed in her family’s crypt. In the center of the cemetery, the crypt was a solemn and elegant building, small with a few underground levels. It was even smaller inside, as the recently passed away were kept in the walls of the single room on ground level. In the back, stairs and portraits led the way to others.

    As it turned out, they weren’t the only visitors there. Richard and Grace were there when they walked in, talking quietly with each other. “Oh sorry, do you want us to come back later?” Shauna asked from the doorway.

    “No, it’s fine,” Richard said.

    Grace nodded. “Right, you’re her friends. What brings you out here?”

    “I haven’t been out here yet,” Calem said, coming over with some flowers they had brought to leave here. It felt strange to be checking on this when her parents were here, but if something wasn’t right, they had a right to know too. “I should have, but school kept me busy…” he thought about saying something more, but then the problem got his attention.

    “Well it’s not easy to come out here either,” Trevor said. The place certainly dampened their spirits. “But we all miss her, and think about her a lot.”

    “She’s not here,” Calem said, putting his hand with the bouquet against the concrete wall where she should have been. The others looked at him in bewilderment, but he was focused on trying to sense something in the crypt. He could find coffins and bodies in the other, but not in the one labeled with Serena’s name. “You said she was buried with the miracle flower, but it’s not here either. I don’t think there’s even a coffin in there anymore.”

    “The crypt hasn’t been disturbed,” Grace said. “At least, I don’t think it has.”

    “But Calem would be able to sense her if she was here,” Shauna said.

    Richard scratched his head, then sighed with reluctance. “Well… I’ve heard of that. Wait a moment, we can check.” He went to an iron box set in the wall by the stairs and, after using magic to prove that he was part of the family, opened it up to take out a key. On the wall, he uncovered a lock that allowed him to remove the cover to the crypt’s slot.

    As Calem had told him, it was completely empty.

    Her parents called the police immediately on the grave robbery, but it would be some time before this mystery was solved. I felt terrible for Grace and Richard, having their daughter taken from them even after death. But I knew my time limit then and had to focus on my goals, now including finding the other two miracle flowers in hopes of slowing Flare’s progress down.
     
  15. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    That ranch is a fun addition. Nothing really happens there, although you can take one of the Pokémon out for a ride to get some items. Still, it's a nice piece of world-building, that there's more to the Pokémon world out there.

    I wonder how many people noticed about the miracle flowers.
     
  16. "Buried with a miracle flower" "Not the only one with a black flower", Serena vanishing...

    I see how it is now. Sneaky sneaky...
     
  17. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Chapter 28: The Hidden Village

    In the last weeks of that summer, I had my final choice in which order to take the Gyms in. Cyllage had a Rock Gym, which was one of the two where my aura quirks gave me an advantage in typing. Because of that, I decided to take on the Ice Gym in Snowbelle first. Better to take that advantage in a higher challenge. But first I had to make a reservation for the match with Wulfric and he was the last of the Kalos Gym Leaders to add a reservation request to his gym’s webpage. I had trouble getting through on the phone as well, so on a day I had free, I headed down to Snowbelle to make the reservation in person.

    While he’d been here before during the summer, it was still impressive to come into Snowbelle and find the gym iced over. The grounds around the building were vibrant with green grass, probably from the moisture coming from the slow continual melt off. Calem glanced around town, looking for places he could visit after he’d finished his business. In one corner of town on a raised road, there seemed to be an area where local Trainers were facing off. That could be good.

    He came down the last set of steps heading towards the gym in the lowest part of Snowbelle, but things didn’t seem right. The windows on the gym were dark; it was the middle of the day and they weren’t easy to see through, but one would think there’d be some indication of Pokemon battles inside. There weren’t any humans out in this area either. Instead, there was a single Pokemon and not one of an Ice aura. A Furfrou with a bag slung over its neck was pawing at the door, whining in brief spurts.

    “Huh, should we ask what’s up?” Mortan asked, having joined him for the day. Heinrich was floating around too; they had taken to talking with each other in part to have the latter smooth out his reacquired speech.

    “Yeah, I think so,” Calem said, going over. “Hey Furfrou. Trying to find Wulfric too?”

    The Furfrou perked up his ears immediately, backing up to look at him. After an enthusiastic bark, he bounded over and started licking Calem’s face. “Seems this fellow knows you,” Heinrich said.

    Calem laughed, petting the Furfrou and looking at his eyes. “Really? Hey wait, are you the one I caught outside Parfum Palace?”

    “Oauf!” The Furfrou nuzzled against his neck, so Calem didn’t need that translated.

    “Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you,” he said, hugging the Pokemon. “But what are you doing here?” Last he knew, the Furfrou had been with Serena. Then again, he hadn’t seen her use him in the past year.

    Backing up, the Furfrou pulled a piece of paper out of its bag, being careful not to damage it too much. As Calem took the paper, Mortan said, “Seems he came for Wulfric, but if you would help, he needs the help quickly.”

    “This is written in Unown text, but Gran taught me to interpret it. I mean, Beatrice did,” he added the last part for Heinrich mostly. But who’d be sending a message with that alphabet?

    Whoever it was seemed to be in trouble. Translated, it said, ‘The ones who captured Xerneas are in the village looking for the guardian and trying to capture the Pokemon. They are disturbing our peace but they might do much worse. I do not wish to confront them and confirm what they suspect. Please we beg for your assistance.’

    “Team Flare’s causing trouble here again?” Calem said.

    The Furfrou barked and growled. “Not here, but there’s a village of Pokemon past the Winding Woods,” Mortan said. “They don’t call attention to themselves, but he trusts you and Wulfric would know what the message means. Yveltal and I have met with the Pokemon who founded and guards the village. Believe me, we don’t want them to capture the village guardian too.”

    “I could help, but it’s a risk,” Calem said, wanting to but not wanting the hurt innocent Pokemon if things got out of control. “But if Wulfric’s not here, we’d have to find him.”

    “How about you let Mortan and I find him?” Heinrich said. “Between our powers and passing through the realm of spirits, it shouldn’t take long. Have this Furfrou take you to the Pokemon village to give them trouble until Wulfric can intervene.”

    “None of us have a direct bond with him, but knowing he’s a master of Ice magic and connected to this building,” Mortan mused on that for a second. “Sure, we can get the message to him.”

    Calem nodded and handed Heinrich the paper; he’d have an easier time keeping hold of it with his roots. “Good, then I’ll see about keeping them busy. Don’t worry, I can handle this.”

    “We know,” Heinrich said, moving over to Mortan to discuss with him about finding Wulfric.

    “Let me get my skates on so we can get over there quickly,” Calem said, taking them out of his bag and clipping them onto his shoes. The Furfrou wagged his tail, then bounded off towards the entrance of the woods with Calem following. Before long, his other Pokemon came out of their Pokeballs and hurried along as well.

    The enchantments on the woods were a great deal weaker than they’d been last time he’d been in here. It was like passing through an ordinary forest, with only the occasional twists in the paths remaining to disorient them. However, the Furfrou knew exactly where to run. It was rough grounds to skate over, but this was an emergency.

    After what seemed like two miles through the forest, Calem, his remaining Pokemon, and the Furfrou emerged in a vast field of flowers. At the east side of the field, a tall hill with a waterfall spilling down helped to hide this place. There were signs of many burrows where Pokemon lived, along with some primitive structures of large branches, woven leaves, and simple ropes. A few human things were scattered about, like plastic trash bins, an old picnic table, some toys, and even a rusted out metal barrel with a nest built in it. Near the entrance, there was a sign that had a picture of a Pokeball with a red X through it. Along the edges of the forest, there were a great many berry bushes; trees close by also bore bountiful nuts, still ripening in place. This place looked like a Pokemon paradise.

    Except for the Team Flare members there disrupting the peace. Calem could feel traces of fear all around the village, even back in the forest where the Pokemon residents were trying to hide. There were seven Flare members here, including one of the scientists. She was over with three others at the hill, working with explosives (the machinery they were working with felt like it held that kind of danger to him). Closer to the entrance, three others were working together to battle Pokemon who couldn’t hide: a pair of Snorlax that were close to exhaustion from a long battle. Flare had already captured a few Pokemon but weren’t having an easy time with the two Snorlax, as evidenced by the broken Pokeballs on the ground.

    Calem skated through the flowers to get to the two Snorlax. “Hey, why are you bothering these Pokemon?” he asked, casting a healing spell over the weaker of the two Snorlax. It wouldn’t do much for their dwindling energy, but it might help them escape if they wished.

    “We’re capturing them, what does it look like?” one of the three said.

    “Yeah, that’s no crime,” another said, causing the Furfrou to growl.

    “Didn’t you see the sign there?” Calem asked, healing the other Snorlax. “No Pokeballs here. If they want to be left alone, leave them alone.”

    “That’s nonsense,” the third said. “Nobody lives here and the Pokemon don’t make the rules.”

    “The Pokemon live here and they can make the rules if they want,” he said.

    “Look, you’re getting in the way and if you don’t buzz off, we’ll drive you back home crying,” one of them said, causing Yorick to cackle.

    “Or do you think you can take us on?”

    Calem nodded as Swift croaked a warning. “Yeah, we’ll put a stop to this.” And the Flare grunts weren’t as good as they thought. They had more Pokemon than he had at the moment, but that was combined. His Pokemon were able to handle theirs easily; even the Furfrou managed to contribute.

    By the time that all three of them were defeated, the Flare scientist came over to observe through her silver visor. A red glow moved about rapidly over it, changing patterns to whatever she silently asked it to do. “Well now, can’t handle a disturbance?” she asked the three disapprovingly.

    “Ah, Aliana, s-sorry!” one of them stammered.

    “We don’t mean to be a disgrace, but his Pokemon are tough,” a second said, backing up from where he was. However, he nearly ran into one of the Snorlax now blocking his path. The Snorlax smiled in a menacing way.

    “Yeah, be glad that you weren’t stupid enough to challenge him yourself,” Aliana said, to everyone’s surprise. She turned to Calem, her eyebrows giving her a harsh expression. “You’re that Asari boy that Mabel’s been talking about; you could have killed the lot of us in half the time it took you in those battles.”

    “You’re lucky that I’m not interested in killing,” Calem said. “But I won’t stand for disrupting Pokemon and trying to blow up a hill they live on.”

    “I can’t imagine what this has to do with you,” Aliana said. “But you do know that you’re only where you are by the graces of our leader, right? We can really wreck your potential if you decide to mess with us.”

    He shook his head. “That doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is that you steal a whole factory worth of Pokeballs and go after Pokemon who’ve decided that they want to live free, among other injustices you’ve been making.” There was that temptation to let his rage overtake him and punish her for letting Serena get murdered. But the presence of his Pokemon and the others kept that temptation in check.

    “That’s quite a bold accusation,” she said. In her aura, there was an undercurrent of fear. She knew what he was capable of. Yet she was deliberately trying to provoke him, with a greed that overcame her fear. Maybe they had found the way Heinrich had been controlled by his military commanders. “But I don’t think either will hold water. The Pokeball Company is working with us and there’s no laws against capturing Pokemon. And we do have need for a lot of Pokemon, preferably those of a strong life force. But that’s probably beyond your naïve sense of social justice.”

    A lot of Pokemon, of a strong life force. The way she said it finally made the points click. “W-wait, you’re capturing Pokemon to sacrifice to AZ’s machine? That’s insane!”

    “I didn’t say that,” Aliana said, but she had a self-satisfied smirk trying to make its way out.

    “But your intent is clear.” Calem wanted to say that, but someone else did. The voice seemed to come out of thin air, even causing the air to darken with the discontent of the speaker. “In that case, I can’t allow you to leave with them!” A beam of energy blasted through air, exploding to send its waves at the Flare members. The spell missed Calem and the Pokemon there entirely, intentionally.

    Unintentionally, it missed Aliana as her visor allowed her to block the spell even as quickly as it had come. And it might have missed Calem, but the wake of it caused his body to shiver as if he’d come across something disturbing. “Hah, so you showed yourself!” Aliana said in a mad glee as she released a Mightyena. “We could’ve have passed on the rest, but you Mewtwo, you’re a different story.”

    “Stop her!” Calem commanded to his Pokemon. A shruikan made of water quickly passed by him, Swift immediately hurling it at Aliana. Calem skated back, figuring he’d be best off taking up a healing role. Seconds later, the other three Flare members rushed over to help their commander, releasing their own Pokemon into the chaos.

    There was a growl close by Calem before an attack like before went flying at Aliana. It was also blocked. However, now he could see who had initiated the battle: a Pokemon like none he’d seen before. Mewtwo’s aura indicated that he was currently mega evolved in order to take on this threat. He floated in the air, about the size of a human child but almost feline in his features, like the shape of his nose and the long tail swishing angrily behind him. Some kind of circular antenna came off his ears and even without evidence in the spells, Calem could tell this was a Pokemon of extraordinary power. Maybe even on the level of gods.

    After missing, Mewtwo hurled his next spell at the approaching group, cutting them down. “That device of hers might let her block anything,” he said.

    Her visor. “I might be able to help,” Calem said, summoning his dagger. Some of the electronics in the device were in the visor, but its power and other parts were in a separate box. He could damage the box, or possibly cut the wire. However, the visor might also be able to track his movements.

    The Pokemon guardian raised one of his paws towards Aliana and from that, he knew Mewtwo would work with him. As the Pokemon cast a spell aimed at her, Calem used his swiftstep to get behind her and his awareness to cut through the wire and damage the visor’s battery without his dagger cutting anything more than some of her hair. He warped back to his former spot before she could spin around and slug him. Cursing him, Aliana tore off the visor and brought up her shield immediately. It caught Nibbles trying to knock her over.

    But that broke it and gave them enough time for the guardian to strike her down as well. They had won. In that moment, Calem felt something strangely familiar from Mewtwo. He was trembling in fury, as well as a fierce divide between a desire to kill and to not kill. Did he have some condition like his own?

    “They’re defeated,” Calem said, trying to be calm himself. “They might be terrible, but not worth killing.”

    The guardian growled softly. At that, a Gothorita emerged from the flowers. Around her neck, there was a charm necklace that seemed a lot like the mega ring. “Iiirr sii ora tho,” she said, trying to be soothing.

    “You’re both right,” Mewtwo said, letting a glow surround him. When he emerged, he was as tall as Calem but with the same general look as before. “And you speak that knowingly. Fine.” He looked at his partner. “You and the others should make sure those humans are asleep and their memories are fuzzy.” Then he summoned a handheld device and offered it to Calem. “And would you release the ones they captured today? I’ll take care of their bomb.”

    “Sure,” he said, taking the offer. It wasn’t hard to figure out. Placing the Pokeballs in the holder would identify the Pokemon, the Trainer who caught it, the date, and other information. One of the options was to release the Pokemon, which required a confirmation to prevent accidents. The Flare members did have their own Pokemon too, like Aliana’s Mightyena. Briefly, he considered releasing all of their Pokemon. But the ones they had from before today might be attached to them, ignorant of what their Trainers were doing. He let those be.

    It took longer for him to search through the Pokeballs there than for the guardian Pokemon to disarm the bomb. Mewtwo went around and spoke to some of the other Pokemon before coming over to him. “I meant to get an ally who knows about us, but this seems to have worked out. Thank you.”

    “It’s all right, I couldn’t ignore the request for help,” Calem said, moving a few failed Pokeballs into the empty pile. “I had a pair of my Pokemon get the message to Wulfric, as he wasn’t at his gym.”

    “I hope he’s well,” the Pokemon said, sitting down nearby. The Gothorita with the mega charm soon joined them. “He helps to divert attention from this village. It’s for Pokemon who’ve run away from their Trainers for one reason or another. Doesn’t matter why; I watch over them and make sure they’re safe. This was more trouble than usual since they came for me specifically. I’m called Mewtwo.”

    The name didn’t sound familiar, but he nodded. “I see. I’m Calem and I was trying to reach Wulfric too. But on hearing this was Team Flare, I had to come. They’ve been doing dangerous things, including capturing Xerneas and Yveltal, so I’ve been doing what I can against them when I get the chance.”

    “The gods of this land have been good to me,” Mewtwo said. “I was created to kill during the Great War, but I’ve been trying to get out of that in the years since. At one point, I thought no one would let me find a new home for some quiet, but the three of them accepted me quickly. I’d like to help them myself, but I also don’t want my power to come into the hands of people like those red ones.”

    “I know how that feels,” he said. “I come from a cursed family of killers and I’m trying not to kill others too. But they might have access to methods that were used to control my great-grandfather in the Great War.”

    “I’ve heard of the Asari,” he said, twitching his tail thoughtfully. “Huh, then I’m grateful that it was you who came. Yveltal seemed to find a lot of promise in you. Maybe you can help them.”

    “Hope so,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how’d you get to mega evolve? I’ve gotten one of the mega rings from the group in Kalos that keeps that secret,” he showed the ring on his finger to Mewtwo. “I thought these artifacts were of divine origin.”

    “They are, but I got curious about it when I heard a certain story from some Pokemon,” Mewtwo said. “In the forests around the northern mountains, there’s another pair of Pokemon guardians, but these are both mortal. For many generations, a mega ring and a mega stone have been passed from Pokemon to Pokemon, for the sake of protecting the forests in times of war and violence. I went to see how the process worked, then came back to see if I could replicate it. That’s the first time I had to use it seriously, but once you said they meant to sacrifice the captured Pokemon, I couldn’t keep hiding as I planned.”

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up with nightmares, based on how those spells felt,” Calem said.

    That made Mewtwo smirk. “For threatening my village, they deserve it.”

    “Hello?” Wulfric came in from the forest, accompanied by Heinrich and Mortan. He was a huge man, reminding Calem of a burly Walrein. A leather coat was hung off one of his shoulders. Looking over them in surprise, he walked towards them. “I heard there was trouble, but it seems settled now.”

    “Luckily,” Mewtwo said. “This young man who interceded the message was sufficient help, although we still have the seven troublemakers here to take away.”

    Wulfric nodded. “All right, I’ll see about getting a helicopter out here to take them out. Did you try to affect their memories?”

    The guardian shook his head. “My power is still too damaging to do something that delicate, but the others have done what they could.” He looked off to the forest. “I didn’t want to intrude on Xerneas’ territory, but given what they tried to do, it seems I’ll have to take control of the forest and enforce its maze. So the regular methods might not work for a while.”

    “That’s fine; do what you must.” Wulfric stepped aside to call for the helicopter, than joined them to ask what had happened.

    Once the Team Flare members and their bomb were taken away by the police, Calem and Wulfric headed back into the forest to get to Snowbelle. Mewtwo stayed in the Pokemon village to finish his checks on the Pokemon there before taking control of the forest enchantments. The Furfrou also decided to stay in the village, so Calem had said goodbye to him. On being asked, he promised that he’d come visit once the troubles with Team Flare were settled.

    In the forest, Wulfric said, “Thanks for handling that for me and sending your Pokemon to pass on the message. I got called into an unexpected meeting.”

    “It’s all right, I’m glad it worked out,” Calem said. “Actually, I was trying to reserve a challenge with you and I’m not the sort to wait around when I know someone’s in trouble.”

    He laughed heartily at that. “Wonderful, we’ll see about getting at date set back in town. But you know, you’re quite lucky to have seen Mewtwo. He lets people with good intentions visit, but keeps hidden most of the time. I found the village when I was just a boy and it was rather new, but it was a few years before I finally saw the guardian.”

    “I never even heard of him before today, but it turns out that we’re similar in some ways. I think he recognized that too and trusted me for it.”

    These days, more people are aware of Mewtwo’s presence in the Pokemon Village. However, he has made it even more difficult for humans to find the place unless enough Pokemon put in a good word for the person. Those of us who know the way agree with that caution, as the Pokemon there have chosen to live apart from humans.


    -+-

    At the time that I challenge Wulfric, he had his gym set up with a really impressive puzzle, where the pathways could be rotated into new arrangements. There was no way to set the paths up so there was one clear path to his battle platform, so they had to be turned several times to get over there. I could have simply warped past the puzzle, but I honored his methods and completed it normally.

    It was snowing inside of the Gym, chilled like an icebox with all the enchantments to keep the resident Pokemon happy. Knowing it would be like this, Calem had gotten some of his winter clothes out from storage, enough to keep warm but not obstruct his capacity to battle. The building was nice to be in, the snowfall a gentle tumble and the rotating paths good to walk on. It could have been worse, especially since Ice Pokemon also loved hailing conditions.

    Wulfric was wearing his coat now, but still appeared underdressed for the cold, without any gloves, hat, or scarf. But he also looked tough enough to endure these conditions constantly; it was likely more uncomfortable for him to go outside of Snowbelle in this late summer weather. “Great to see you again,” he said in a booming voice. He might have thought Wulfric had one of the most powerful voices he’d encountered, if he hadn’t run into Zygarde singing. “I think you might like to hear that we’ve managed to get some charges pressed against those Team Flare jerks who invaded the village.”

    “That’s good; hope it gets through.” It wouldn’t surprise him if Lysandre managed to get those charges dropped, or kept the whole thing out of public notice.

    The gym leader nodded. “We could really only get them on using explosives without a license, which isn’t a lot compared to what they did. But it’s a start and they didn’t get to keep the Pokemon. Enough of that, we’re here to see you prove your magic. I don’t have anything fancy to offer for challenges, but what you’ve got to do here at the fifth level is trouble enough. You need to win in a supporting role this time. Much like the badge run of the league, we’ll start out with a Triples style Pokemon battle. But unlike the badge run, you’re free to cast any support spell on your Pokemon as you guide them, and only support spells until one of them goes down. Then you end up on the battle line and can use battle spells and techniques. Same deal on my end; first side to knock out all four on the other side wins, support member can’t be hit directly until they’re on the line. Is that agreeable?”

    “Yes, sounds good,” Calem said. That was well known, so he’d planned ahead.

    With that settled, they began the battle. Wulfric managed some trick where he released all three of his Pokemon at once: an Abomasnow on Calem’s left, a Cryogonal on his right, and an Avalugg in the center. Good because the Avalugg might take longer to take down and if they kept the triples formation, it was better if Wulfric didn’t have a central position. At the same time, bad because the Abomasnow’s aura made the falling snow turn thick with small pieces of hail mixed in. Making a last minute swap of the end positions, Calem brought out Percival on the right, Starlet on the left, and Yorick in the center. The Gengar was there primarily to be annoying.

    While Wulfric was barking out orders, Calem brought up Wide Guard to give his team a brief time to prepare before the other side could attack them. Percival started off using Sword Dance as he’d been told, his blade staying behind his shield while the energy wrapped around him. “Starlet, Rock Smash against the Abomasnow, then follow up with a harder hit,” he said. His hope was to have it and the Cryogonal taken out together. “Yorick, confuse the Avalugg then go after the Abomasnow if she doesn’t take it out on the second hit. Percival, strike the Cryogonal down and then the Avalugg.” The shield faded at that point, having endured a single attack; the other two Pokemon seemed to be preparing as well. Calem started up Grassy Terrain; it would miss Yorick, so he’d need to focus on keeping him healed first until he was brought into the battle line.

    He could feel the usual murmurs in the back of his mind, but the style of this battle had so much going on that he couldn’t listen even if he wanted. Starlet was the first to cross the formations, swinging her steel jaw into the Abomasnow’s trunk, then skipping to the side and winding up for the stronger attack. The large tree Pokemon tried to smash an icy fist into her, but that wouldn’t do much. Next was Percival, clenching his shield with his sash to make a powerful strike against the ice crystal Pokemon, right as it was building energy for a second spell. Starlet then struck the Abomasnow so hard that snow and a few needles fell off its branches. As it still stood, Yorick snuck over in the floor and punched the Abomasnow to knock it down.

    After he felt a brief pride that the plan was working, the Avalugg then caused what seemed to be a ton of snow to fall on all four of them, causing a great deal of damage. As an attack-all spell, that did not count as a direct hit on Calem. Thankfully, he was at the edge of it and his spirit orb didn’t show much damage. Even though her defenses were strong, Starlet was hurting quite a bit. Still, he healed Yorick first since the field effect would help her hang on the brief time until he could cast again.

    Wulfric was now on the field, but he first cast a spell that made a thick fog wrap around them. Maybe that worked normally with the attack-all spells he was using. However, all the water particles in the air synced up perfectly with Calem’s abilities so he would not miss. There were other methods of getting around fog too. As Yorick had put confusion on the Avalugg, he called, “Yorick, Hex the Avalugg. Starlet, follow him to make sure it’s defeated. Percival, you hang tight for a moment.”

    Calem then healed up Starlet while the Aegislash shifted his stance to boost his defenses. Probably a good idea since the leader’s spells had to be strong. As he thought, the Gengar located the Avalugg in the fog and used the curse against him. The Avalugg was trying its hardest to cast again through the confusion, but the combined attacks of Yorick and Starlet took it down. Then Wulfric used the same spell, Avalanche, against them. Oddly, it wasn’t as strong; perhaps it had some extra condition that could power it up.

    “Yorick, Starlet, you two try to find him,” Calem called. “Percival, link up to me.”

    As the connection was made, he felt a strong anxiety from the Aegislash. ‘You really want me to attack the human? I know that’s how it is here, but…’ he’d been taken out of the failed battle with Korrina too fast to have actually attacked her.

    “It’s okay,” Calem said softly. “He’s expecting it because of the conditions of battle. And you just have to do enough damage to break his spirit orb. Use Aerial Ace; it doesn’t require you to hit him directly and I can help you locate him.”

    ‘We’re not really going to hurt people,’ Percival said, mostly to himself as he shifted himself again.

    “That’s right, we’re preparing for when we’ll have to do this to protect others,” Calem said as Percival found Wulfric through his senses and slashed through the air to attack. Starlet had missed the leader entirely, but Yorick had managed a glancing blow with Shadow Ball.

    Percival did not miss, shattering the spirit orb immediately. ‘We won’t let each other fail,’ he said, feeling more confident as he disconnected.

    As he cleared the fog with another spell, Wulfric laughed. “Nicely done with that perfect knockout! One of your Pokemon has a really keen eye.”

    “Or a spell that just doesn’t miss,” Calem said, smiling. “Although if I had been off a support role, that fog would have worked completely against you.”

    For winning my fifth proof of magic, I got Wulfric to teach me the fog spell. I might not be using my powers like my ancestors did, but it’s still a big advantage for me to obscure myself to vision as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  18. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    I think the Pokémon Village was a bit of a missed opportunity. It's a neat place and once Team Flare is in their 'gather a lot of Pokemon' stage, it would have been a natural place to encounter them. But, you can only get there after the Flare plot is over and done with. All well. And Mewtwo as he is here is a reference to one of my shorter stories, another one that considered a large war as an important event to making the Pokémon world the way it is.
     
  19. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    Chapter 29: Capture the Flag

    It was the first weekend of my sixth year at LMA when I challenged Grant in Cyllage. Since it was the first weekend, I figured I’d have time I wouldn’t have in coming weeks to do this. Not really, since I was already in two group projects in different classes, needed research done in another, a paper for yet another class, and get reading done for two more. Plus the advanced battle classes had a higher requirement for the weekly battle log; at least the teacher allowed me to exchange magic duels for more Pokemon battles, as I was less likely to accept duels because of pressure from the Asari. But the match was scheduled already and I’d only get busier as the school year went on.

    When he arrived at Cyllage’s train station, he was part of a large crowd getting off the train. It was still summer, so he figured they were headed for the beach. That seemed to be true, but as he looked over the town from the station, there were a great many people in town as well. By the bright ribbons and flags lining the streets, it seemed something big was going on.

    “Hey, Calem?” someone called from near the station exit. It was Grant; Calem had seen pictures of him before. Mostly it was his hairstyle, with small jewel tone hairpins in his thick tightly curled hair. As it looked more like it was rock flecked with quartz, it wasn’t a feminine style at all.

    “That’s me,” he said. “Hello Grant.”

    He grinned and came over to shake his hand. “Great! I figured it was you because of the academy uniform. I’ve got something I was asked to do first, so how about you join me in watching the bike race?”

    A bike race? Several of the roads in this town had steep slopes, so it had to be tough to bike through. “Sure, that’s fine.”

    “Great, then we need to get to the grandstand quickly,” Grant said, leading the way out of the station and down the street. “Normally I’d be in the race myself, but I figured better save my energy for today. They asked me to start off the race instead, since I’ve already got a spot in the end of season race.”

    “You have a lot of races here then?” Calem asked.

    He nodded. “Yes, every weekend from May to September, unless it rains or there’s one of the bigger Kalos bike marathons. The sport’s been really growing again the past decade, though it’ll probably take some more time to get as much attention as the League. Speaking of that, I’ve already had a large number of requests to see recordings of your challenge.”

    “Even though I just reserved the match?” Some of his Battle Club friends had asked about his challenges, but he thought that was it so far.

    “You’re getting to the point of people paying attention,” Grant said, starting up a flight of stairs along one of the steeper roads. “Especially with you not yet graduated from the region’s famed academy; people are already talking about you.”

    And that was even more pressure to not screw up at this point. The thought of all that scrutiny made him nervous, but he put that out of mind to watch the bike race from up in the grandstand where most of the race officials were. Just below the highest part of the course, on the inside of the curve leading to the biggest slope of the race, it had a good view over the entire town and track. After grabbing the starting flag, Grant headed down the slope to the starting line where the contestants were getting ready. The race started with the bikes heading straight alongside the rail on one side of Cyllage, all the way down to the beach. They then headed out in a weaving path between many flags and over sandbars until they reached the other side to Cyllage where the paved road began again. After going a short ways into town, the course headed straight to the cliffs where a long series of straight paths and 180 turns made its way up to the top. This reconnected to the big slope to head back to the startling line.

    It was quite exciting. Grant started it off with a big waving of the flag and a series of magically crafted fireworks, causing all of the racers to speed off down the first straight way. And these all seemed to be serious competitors, not casual bike riders like Calem and his friends. Every piece of their gear seemed to be designed to make things easier on them, like the streamlined helmets and the light athletic clothing. Even their bikes were designed for speed over the varied course here in Cyllage, from the smooth clean pavement to the damp sandbar (which at points even had shallow water in their paths). And Grant was good enough that he was guaranteed a spot in the final race of the season, while the rest of these athletes must still be working towards that goal. That was impressive, to be considered a master in several different fields.

    After the race, Grant spent some time congratulating the top bikers, then brought Calem along the bike course to his gym. It was set into the cliff at the edge of Cyllage, using the natural caverns for its rooms. Some of the main floor seemed to have been carved down, but a large tower of rock had been left in the center to be turned into a climbing wall. Past that, there was a large waterfall and pool that made the air naturally damp. Many tunnels appeared to be in the walls, with open holes to look into the main central room.

    “I have to lock up the main doors and some of the tunnels just in case,” Grant said, shifting a rock panel on the wall to reveal a control pad.

    “That’s fine,” Calem said. But although Grant was taking these precautions, he didn’t seem afraid at all. He was actually anticipating this match, like someone who was into thrill-seeking sports like skydiving and cliff jumping. Or rock climbing without safety lines, he considered.

    Before he got the main doors shut, a young teenager ran up to the door. “Hey, Grant! Can I get a challenge for the gym badge?”

    “Of course, but not right now,” he replied, waving to the younger Trainer. “Sorry, but I’ve got a special reservation to handle. Come back in about three hours when the gym’s open to the public again, all right?”

    “I didn’t know you could reserve the whole gym,” the teenager said, puzzled.

    “For unusual circumstances,” Grant said as he set the large doors to descend. “See ya later.”

    “Right, I’ll be back later.”

    “They actually closed off the whole of Centrico Plaza when I challenged Clemont,” Calem said.

    “I’d imagine so,” Grant said. After the door thumped closed, he turned to him. “Well then, I hope you’re ready for some action, because I’ve got a little game for your challenge ready. We’re going to play Capture the Flag.” He snapped his fingers and summoned up two inactive orbs and two flags. One had the gym’s symbol on a brown background, while the other had a Pokeball symbol on a black background. “You’ve got half an hour to find someplace to park your flag, anywhere in the gym; I’ll be doing the same. Set one or two Pokemon to be your base guards, no more. When you’ve got that done, flip the switch on the flag to signal your readiness. When we’re both ready, the gym speakers will play a countdown to when the game begins. You can have your four other Pokemon helping you fight or track down the other flag. To win, you need to meet two of three conditions in thirty minutes: get my flag to your base, keep my team from bringing your flag to my base, and take out at least four members of my side. Got that?”

    It sounded fun, so he activated his spirit orb and accepted the Pokeball flag. “Got it. Is something in the gym going to be keeping track of what’s going on?”

    He nodded. “Normally I’d have a few of my Trainers in the gym keeping track. Since they can’t be here, I’ve got them in a building in Cyllage watching the cameras instead of being here in person.” Then he activated a radio mode on his holocaster. “You guys ready?”

    “Everything’s running smooth,” a young man said. “Whenever you two are ready to begin, we’ll start the timer.”

    “I’m ready,” Calem said.

    “Same here,” Grant said, and the gym trainers set off a buzzer in the gym’s sound system to start the match. Grant headed off into one of the tunnel entrances nearby.

    Calem warped himself to the top of the rock wall, to get a better look over this place. Anywhere in the gym, was it? Grant had the advantage of knowing this place like the back of his hand, but Calem had the advantage of warping to locations that might be difficult to access otherwise. At the base of the waterfall was tempting, but that seemed obvious. He warped up to the top of the waterfall to find another pond where a couple of fish Pokemon were lurking. Checking on them, he found that their auras had Water and Rock types in them. Relicanth; neither was attached to a Pokeball, but perhaps Grant had one in his team if this pair was living here. A grate and magic barrier closed off the stream that fed the waterfall, so that seemed to be the edge of the gym.

    Deciding to not use the waterfall, he went to check out a few tunnels. Eventually, he found an alcove that had a good view over the tunnel hall just below it. The other side wouldn’t be able to sneak up on this base and it might just go missed by someone simply walking through the hall. Calem got up there and set his flag against the wall. After checking on things, he brought out the six Pokemon he’d chosen. While Nibbles had some moves to deal with Rock types, she was the most at risk in terms of type match ups. So he’d left the Pinsir out, making sure to get Mortan for the day.

    “Okay, like you might have heard, winning battles is only one of the conditions we need to meet to pass this time,” Calem told them. “We have to keep this flag here at our base, while getting Grant’s flag and bringing it back here. If we manage to keep this undiscovered, we might not even have to battle. Heinrich, Yorick, I want the two of you to stay here at base and guard our flag. It’s better to go unnoticed for you two, so keep quiet.” That was mostly for the latter, as he was sure the former would go completely silent without the request.

    “Gwa haw,” Yorick agreed, even being quiet now.

    “We’ll keep a quiet watch, I’ll make sure of it,” Heinrich said.

    He nodded. “The rest of us are going to spread out through the gym to look for the other flag and confront Grant and his team if needed. I trust you guys to handle things on your own, so I’m sending you off in pairs. Call on me if you get outnumbered, your partner is knocked out, or if you find the flag; I’ll hear you and get over to help out. Swift, Starlet, you two go together and check out the ground level, including around the waterfall and pond. I noticed some Pokemon in there, so Swift, make sure to get to a spot where Starlet can fight with you since those Pokemon might have a resistance to Water aura.”

    The Greninja croaked in agreement, while Starlet smiled and nodded. Calem felt the two of them would work together well. Because of Starlet’s haughty attitude at times, Yorick liked to tease her and Mortan sometimes got annoyed by her. Swift would keep her from making a mistake, but was tolerant of the proud Pokemon.

    “Then Mortan and Percival, you two check on the tunnels and some higher areas like the top of the waterfall,” Calem said. “It might help to do this quietly, since you two can get around unnoticed if you want. Grant will also have a guard or two at his flag, so for any of us, checking out an area where a Pokemon seems to be staying in one place could help.”

    “Right, that’d help,” Mortan said. Percival agreed with him. “Then we have half an hour once the buzzer sounds again?”

    He nodded. “Yup, that’s the time we have. Are all of you ready to go?” Once they agreed, he flipped the switch on the flag’s pole and jumped down to the hall. “We can go ahead and split up now that the base is decided on, make this location less obvious. Swift, Starlet, I’ll help you two find the path down then head out on my own.”

    There were stairs at either end of the hallway, so the three of them got down to ground level in time for the buzzer to sound. Bringing out his dagger and cowl, Calem warped over to the rock tower and found a sheltered spot to keep track of his Pokemon. He’d give them fifteen minutes to see if they could solve the game first, then he’d start looking. That seemed like a reasonable plan and he was hoping his Pokemon could find Grant’s base so they’d all have a reason to celebrate later on.

    Down on the ground level, Starlet and Swift had decided to check out the main room first. Two of Grant’s Pokemon were in this room as well, both on the base pond. As Calem had thought, a Relicanth that was part of the gym officially was lurking under the water. On top of the water was a Pokemon he recognized as having been on Serena’s team fairly often, an Aurorus that swam around calmly. Around its body, ice started to form on the pond’s surface. Higher up in the cavern, Percival and Mortan were floating around to check on the uppermost tunnels first.

    Swift was the first one to spot the Aurorus. But she and Starlet decided to take it on by themselves. The Mawile couched down and managed to blend herself into the rocky area by the pond while Swift got into the water quietly to swim out to it. Using a pair of her water shurikens, she got the Aurorus’ attention so that it pursued her onto the ground. It sent a cascade of its icy water after her, but once on ground, it got caught in a coordinated attack between Swift and Starlet. That knocked it out, causing it to vanish back to its Pokeball.

    Then the Relicanth emerged with a sneak attack of its own, sending rocks flying. But it was alone against two, so it was soon taken out as well. That was two defeated, which might still come in handy. Calem warped down to the edge of the pond to heal the two Pokemon. “Great job, both of you,” he said quietly, petting Swift. “There’s a couple more Relicanth in the water, but they’re up above and not actually Grant’s. So there’s most likely no more in the water here.”

    “Meesa,” Starlet said happily.

    Leaving them to search the waterfall for the flag, Calem returned to his waiting spot and checked on the others. An Aerodactyl was circling around the central room, causing Mortan and Percival to be careful. Grant was passing through the tunnel Calem’s base was in, causing Heinrich and Yorick to watch him carefully. But even he missed checking up in the alcove in preference of checking on the rooms in that tunnel. The two Ghosts discussed quietly about doing something against Grant. Yorick really wanted to play a prank, but Heinrich was trying to advise him to caution.

    That changed once Grant went downstairs to search the next tunnel. With some ideas from Heinrich, Yorick moved through the floor to the next level, moving like a shadow just in Grant’s view until the leader paid attention. As Grant tried to locate him specifically, Yorick hit him with Confuse Ray, then went out into the hall and taunted him until he chased the Gengar out into the hall and down the stairs, where he tripped down the last few. He was still alert and the damage his spirit orb reported wasn’t worrisome. Yorick gave a cackle, then took off for the base before Grant could clear his mind and figure out what happened.

    Good, that wouldn’t be a definite hint to the base’s location and if he was unlucky, Grant would run across Swift and Starlet. Calem smiled then checked back with Percival and Mortan. The two of them had not alerted other Pokemon yet, so their search was quiet so far. But now, they had found a Tyrantrum pacing around one hallway, on the middle of three levels. That match... it could be rough. Mortan could handle it with little problem, but if it got to Percival, it might be able to knock him out. The Aerodactyl was still flying around, having missed them so far. Wanting to keep hidden, the Flabebe and Aegislash went into in another room in that upper hall while the Tyrantrum couldn't see them. They called for Calem there.

    A buzzer for the fifteen minute mark sounded as he warped to the top of the tower, then to a window in the particular hallway, then into the room. That was the most certain way he felt of getting there. “What do you two want to do about that Pokemon?” he asked quietly.

    “I think I could take it out in a single Petal Blizzard,” Mortan said. “But I want to be sure of getting rid of it without alerting Grant too soon. If you two attack with me, then it should work.”

    Calem nodded. “All right. Since I’m here, I can tell it's Rock and Dark type. Percival, if you can get close to it without being noticed, Sacred Sword should work really well on it. Mortan and I will cast our spells, and if it's still alert after that, take it down as soon as possible.”

    “Kishin,” Percival agreed, then phased into the wall to get closer.

    Calem brought his hand up to cover where Mortan hovered near him as they left the room. The cowl should cover for them both, even if he had to quickly move to a shadowed portion of the hall. As the Tyrantrum walked closer to them, it sniffed along the floor. It noticed something, growling and glancing around. It nearly looked right at where Percival was in the wall, so Calem signaled Mortan to cast with him. Petal Blizzard and Water Pulse combined to form a torrent filled with petals, striking the Tyrantrum before it could figure out where the threat was. With it fainting from both spells, the precaution with Percival hadn't really been needed. But the Aegislash came out of the wall and beckoned them over.

    In the storage room the Tyrantrum had been protecting, there was the gym's flag being used for this challenge. It was placed inside of a device which would emit a loud alarm when taken. “Sneaky, he trapped it,” Calem said, taking a moment to check on the others in the Gym. Swift and Starlet were hiding on the ground level, watching Grant warily. Heinrich and Yorick were still at the base. Meanwhile, the Aerodactyl continued to pace the central room; a Carbink and Boldore checked on the middle level halls.

    “But he'll be here soon, won't he?” Mortan pointed out.

    “Right. Okay, I’m giving the flag to you two. Use the back hall up here to bring it to our base and try to avoid notice from the other Pokemon, mostly that Aerodactyl. I think we can win this on stealth, not open confrontation. Once you get the flag there and out of sight from that hall, go to the back hall to wait out the last half. Try to hide over being found, but call me if they get into that hall. Got it?”

    “What about the other hallway up here, over the front of the gym?” Mortan asked.

    “I'll get the other two up there, don't worry. Okay...” by then, he'd realized that the alarm had batteries. Taking the cover off and removing them, he was able to release the flag without setting off the alarm. But he felt that Grant would know before long because the Tyrantrum had been returned. He passed off the flag to Percival and saw them off. Then he warped back to the edge of the window opening and checked on those on the ground level.

    Starlet was carefully making her way towards the central tower, intent on hiding rather than taking on the gym leader. It seemed there were limits to even her pride. However, Swift stayed close, crouching down in a shadowed dip. Once Starlet was far enough away, the Greninja hit Grant with Smokescreen, then bounded off to the waterfall's base. The curse obscured Grant's sight, but he was able to clear it up himself. On hearing the splash of water, he checked on his team's Pokeballs.

    Noticing that the Tyrantrum was knocked out, Grant decided to get back to his base immediately. He did so by casting Rock Climb, which surprisingly set up warp points like the swiftstep. But the aura seemed limited to only for rock surfaces. The warp points went to tiny ledges in the wall, but one was set to the frame of the second floor window opening. Calem jumped down to that warp point as Grant was warping up the wall, disrupting his climb. “Your technique seems limited,” he said, unable to resist teasing him for it.

    Not caring that he was stuck standing on a tiny ledge against the wall two floors off the ground, Grant grinned. “You think?” Then he used a spell with a slight delay: Rock Slide, so that he could recast Rock Climb and bounce up the falling rocks trying to make sure something hit him.

    Calem didn't even have time to be impressed as he was forced to warp out of the way. Those rocks might be enough to break his spirit orb and Grant seemed to be a wizard willing to throw a punch if that was more effective. While he could sense the Asari trying to speak to him, he couldn't be paying attention as Grant recast his combo after just a moment's pause on another ledge. He was fast, only in part due to a quickness enchantment. Bikes weren't the only kind of race he could win.

    To keep Grant from continuing his strategy, Calem cast Fog to fill the gym. He warped down to the ground right at the edge of the fog, leaving the gym leader up on the wall outside the second level hall. His next move took him to the part of the central tower Starlet was hiding by, with a pair of targeting circles towards the pond to bring Swift over. Briefly startled, the Mawile brought her steel jaw up defensively, then relaxed on seeing that it was him.

    “We’ve got the flag,” he said, once his Greninja appeared with them. “Percival and Mortan are bringing it back to base, so I’m going to move you two up to one of the upper halls to keep an eye on who comes near. I'd prefer you to stay hidden while you do so and if you must attack someone, try not to let them raise the alarm to their teammates. Got it?”

    They both agreed, so he recalled them to their Pokeballs to warp them up. As he did, a powerful hot wind blew through the gym, instantly drying up his fog. Grant apparently knew Defog, so this advantage couldn't last long. Calem made a multistep warp up to the third level hall that Swift and Starlet needed to watch, trying to get out of the cleared area before he was spotted. After pausing for a moment to make sure he was safe, he released his Pokemon and checked on the positions of others in the gym.

    Percival and Mortan were still making their way through the back hall with the flag; staying out of the Aerodactyl's sight wasn't easy. Heinrich was doing his best to keep Yorick from getting bored and giving away their position. Noticing that, Calem thought it might be good to send the Gengar out of some mischief. Nothing in the game's rules said that he couldn't change the base guards as long as their number was the same. The Carbink and Boldore pair were now in the hallway below their team's base. Across the gym, Grant whistled from hall outside of his base, bringing the Aerodactyl to him.

    Guessing ahead, Calem made sure Swift and Starlet were confident in their role, then warped over to the alcove his base was in. “Heinrich, I think Grant's sending his Pokemon below us a message through the Aerodactyl. Will you go down and eavesdrop?”

    “Certainly,” he said, diving down into the stones to get to the lower level.

    “And I might have another task for you soon,” Calem said to Yorick, much to his delight. But then there was a brilliant flash from the central room, bringing in a cascade of powerful sunlight from a Sunny Day enchantment. Even in a hidden upper part of the hallway, Calem shielded his eyes trying to get used to it. “Wow, that's going to make it hard for me to hide.”

    Percival and Mortan appeared at the end of the hall, almost back at base. However, the Aerodactyl flew by cawing, making them all freeze momentarily. It flew into the second floor hall, allowing the other pair to make their way quickly to their base. “Oh, you're here already,” Mortan said as Percival set Grant's flag by theirs. “That wasn't easy. Percival had to float horizontal against the wall at points to avoid being noticed with the flag.”

    “Then you did a marvelous job getting over here stealthily,” Calem said, smiling. “I might be changing our strategy again, as I'd like to take Yorick around for some trouble-making, keeping their attention off this area.”

    The Gengar gave a toothy grin at that, pleased with that plan over staying to hide.

    “In that case, Percival's going to stay here and you'll be watching that hall alone Mortan. You okay with that?”

    He nodded. “I'd have an easier time keeping unseen on my own in this place.”

    “If you get in trouble, either I'll come or I’ll send Swift over, depending on who you face,” Calem said. “But we're getting a chance to see what they're up to in a bit.”

    Heinrich came up right on time with that. “They think they've mostly eliminated the third and second floor,” he said. “Grant wants them to check on the last parts of the second floor quickly to focus on the first. He thinks we're either on this side in the first floor because Yorick attacked him there, or near the waterfall because those two Pokemon were taken out quickly. And the Aerodactyl is keeping his position so he can spot anyone moving through the central room from the air.”

    “All right.” He activated his holocaster to check the time. “So we've got about seven minutes to hold our ground.” He filled in Heinrich on the changes, then sent off Mortan while taking Yorick to inform Starlet and Swift of the new situation. Then he brought his Gengar down to the first floor hallways, to use some distraction to keep the four remaining opponents from finding them.

    With the bright sunlight filling the cave, it wasn't going to be easy for either of them to keep hidden. Yorick had it easier, but traces of his violet ectoplasm often leaked out of the wall when he hid there. And these Pokemon were attuned to the rock, so they might be able to sense his movements. So the first thing he had Yorick do was hit both the Boldore and the Carbink with Confuse Ray in the second floor hallway. After they wasted a few minutes that Grant spent checking over the tower, the Gengar then said some rude things to them before fleeing down the stairs. He didn't need to know the Taunt curse in particular to rile the other two into chasing him.

    The Carbink soon calmed down, realizing that the Gengar might be trouble for her. The Boldore was still mad, so agreed to search for Yorick in this hall while its partner went after Grant. Leaving Yorick to handle the rocky black Pokemon, Calem watched for the other two, then warped out to face them. As soon as Grant met his eyes, he cast the Mean Look curse over the leader before warping back into the hallway. That would keep him from using Rock Climb like he had before, taking out the risk that he'd get back up to the third floor quickly. Grant grumbled and chased after him on foot, sending the Carbink to search another hall on the first floor. Before they could get to the halls, the buzzer sounded to warn them that they had only five minutes left.

    The Aerodactyl screamed in fury overhead. Checking up there, Calem sensed that Swift had gone out on her own to distract it to the area where Grant's base had been. He had to trust her judgment with what he'd told them, since he had a possible confrontation down here. Yorick had confused the Boldore again, causing it to fire a series of rocks at Grant as he ran into the hall. While it would have been amusing to have the leader taken out by his own Pokemon, Grant noticed the danger and jumped back before he got hit. He healed the Boldore of its confusion, then darted between the rooms trying to gauge the situation. When he was halfway done with the hall, the Boldore gave a rough squeal to alert Grant of where Yorick was hiding in the wall. The Gengar hit the other Pokemon with Confuse Ray a third time while Calem waited for Grant to be in the hallway in order to cast Flash.

    “Yorick!” The blinding light gave him time to run to the hall behind the waterfall, the Gengar following after. While Grant was trying to fix his brief blindness and the Boldore's confusion, Calem waved the Yorick closer. “Get in the rooms and make small noises, but get out once they come in to search. If we get cornered, rush out through the waterfall and call me so I can warp to you.”

    “Gwa hah ha,” Yorick laughed, then went into one room while Calem took another.

    It just had to be small noises to make them investigate: a footstep, a box being moved, a chair tipped over (this one courtesy of Yorick). Eventually the Carbink came to join them, relaying to Grant that she had found nothing of them in the other first floor halls. “Something’s not right,” Grant said as Calem hid in the room he was searching. “We don't have time; let's just find them. There's at least two here.”

    Calem pushed the chair out from the desk he was hiding behind, then warped into the next room where Yorick was. “Not much longer,” he whispered. “But get 'em again just because. You haven't confused the Carbink in a while.”

    Snickering, Yorick slipped off through the shadows to do that. Calem added another casting of Fog to add to the mess, allowing the Gengar to confuse Grant for the last couple of minutes. But once the last buzzer sounded to end the game, Calem cast Heal on Grant to clear up his confusion, letting him do the same for his Carbink.

    “Are we done already?” Grant asked, clearing the air with Defog and checking his holocaster.

    “That’s right,” the gym trainer on the radio said. “Man, that was an awesome match.”

    “Maybe on your end, but I'm still not sure what's gone on.”

    “That was fun,” Calem said, getting a cackle from Yorick hiding nearby.

    “I’ll give you that,” Grant said, grinning back. “What’s the status on the flags? And where is his base? I don't have a clue right now.”

    “Calem's team has both of them at their base,” the gym trainer said. “And you got so close to his base too. You know the spot up on the third floor west hallway that has a hole up near the top? Where you usually put one of the targets for the perception challenge. That's where.”

    His expression clearly said, 'Are you kidding me?' to the holocaster. Then he smacked his forehead. “That spot? Why didn't I think to check up there? I was there pretty early if I remember right. I think I glanced up there, but there didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary.”

    “Maybe, but they followed the game rules well. He switched guards once, but you've said that was allowable before. And... none of his Pokemon are knocked out with three of yours down. The Aerodactyl is nearly out, but he's still hanging in there.”

    “That’s because he's one tough old bird,” Grant said, summoning one of the proof of magic pins. “In any case, you met two of the three conditions, so nicely done! Came close to meeting three.”

    “Well I need to prove I can use my powers without fully resorting to violence, so it fit my goals,” Calem said.

    “Still, nicely done and thanks for the incredible match,” he said, passing over the pin. “Not often that I meet someone as capable in magical wall climbing. But more importantly, you've shown an excellent grasp in strategy, well meeting our expectations. From using the local environment for cues to using distractions to keep your opponent from their goals, it takes more than just direct power to be a real champion.”

    -+-

    Since his afternoon after the match was free, Calem brought his Pokemon out to one of the sandbars out in the coastal waters. It got them out of the main crowds while still letting them enjoy the last portion of summer at the beach. He changed out of his uniform in favor of casual clothes he didn't mind getting wet, as well as brought over snacks for their celebration. And because he didn't want to leave her out entirely, he brought Nibbles along too; she happily went to splashing in the water with Swift, sometimes digging in the sand to find shells.

    Most of his team were playing together like that. Calem spent some time showing Starlet the spell Grant had taught him. Out of all the spells he'd used, Rock Slide seemed best for variety. “Seems like it could be a multi-target or single target spell,” Calem said, watching the rocks materialize, fall into the water, then dematerialize shortly after.

    Starlet tugged at his shirt and waved her paw towards where he had cast it.

    “You trying to figure it out?” he asked, casting it again. “That would be useful, and should cover some types the team doesn't have covered.” He cast a third time, making him think. “I used to wonder as a kid, where do the rocks come from and where do they go? They make a splash, so they're there. According to my classes, aura can make such objects temporarily real, but since they're not completely real, they get undone by their innate instability. But it's real for that moment, which is why it hurts. Oh yeah, and when it came to water, the spells can draw from water in the air and surrounding area to materialize and keep a person wet, but even that will dematerialize for most part. That's why it's advised not to drink or eat magically produced items even if they're normally edible, because unless they're grown or fully pulled from nature, they'll dematerialize even in your stomach, which can cause problems. So the rocks are only real for a few seconds, like Trevor’s flowers.”

    Somewhere in his rambling, Starlet tightened her paws into fists, clenching both jaws. Then she cast a spell that looked like Rock Slide, but without as many rocks as Calem had made. She sighed in disappointment.

    “No, you were pretty close there,” he said. I think you've got the right idea, but you just need to practice it a few times. Go ahead; at worst, we're scaring off local fish, but nobody's fishing over here on this sandbar.”

    Nodding, she tried a few more times. Calem considered that it'd be a good spell for her to keep. But what about the rest? They had good moves and spells. Maybe he could upgrade Yorick's Poison Jab with something stronger. While the chance to poison was useful from time to time, it was often just as good to take out an opponent quicker with a strong move. Or perhaps going with something guaranteed to poison even if it didn't do as much damage, just in case they were set for a longer battle.

    But most magic users who trained Pokemon learned curing spells early on as there simply weren't many options for Pokemon to heal teammates. In his team, Mortan could cure statuses and use the regenerating field spell, but not a simple cure spell. Heinrich had some healing capability, but only for himself; one spell was a slow drain from another target while the other was only useful if they were willing to give up his mobility. In any case, Heinrich needed the most work in catching up to the others, in terms of his levels and his moves. And they needed to figure out how he evolved.

    Thinking of that, he waved for Heinrich to come over as the Phantump floated away from Yorick with Percival. Both of them came over, but that was fine. “Hey Heinrich, I was wondering when you'd want to evolve. It happened to the rest of my Pokemon by chance, but we still have to figure it out for you.”

    “I believe Phantump is a trade evolution,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about that too, but I’m not sure about it. On one hand, I like being small, as it's easy to hide. But then I’ve admired Trevenants before, and if we're in a wooded area, I could hide tree-mendously well.”

    Calem groaned at that. “Did you have to make a pun out of it?”

    He snickered. “Why not? I can be frivolous like that now. Anyhow, I'd rather put it off; I might be able to come into higher grade spells quicker that way, which I've heard works with some Pokemon.”

    “More like most, but all right, we'll wait.”

    Percival clicked in a nervous way, causing Heinrich to bob in the air. “Right, I’m getting to it. Calem, we think the Asari are going to try something soon. They've been watching you with such intent for a few minutes, but we can't tell more than that.”

    Nodding and activating his senses, he said, “All right. I wondered about that, since I could hardly hear them in the gym. Guys? We need to be prepared...”

    The Aegislash then gave a shrill alarm, with Heinrich saying, “We'll need to fight. Two are crossing over from the realm of spirits.”

    Like before, only it was just him and his Pokemon here. Calem brought out his dagger and cowl in time for the two to begin materializing, not bothering with the shields this time. Maybe because there was a town full of people nearby? Even as they appeared, Calem could see a difference in them. One had a flicker of light in his aura, like a candle in a dark room. The other was completely dark.

    “Those two,” Mortan said, coming near him.

    “I can tell,” Calem said, raising his mega ring to his chest. “Yorick, keep them pinned! The rest of you, be careful.”

    The Gengar's passive ability changed when he mega evolved, from Levitate to Shadow Tag. If he intentionally slowed himself a little, he could wipe out the teleport points as soon as they were made. Yorick was still in the process of doing so when the two Asari were fully there, both grabbing onto Calem's arms. “We can’t let you continue unmarked like this,” the corrupt one hissed.

    Starlet didn't care about the danger they were to her and immediately dumped Rock Slide on them. Not being held by Yorick's ability, Calem warped out of their grasp and sliced through the connection to the one bearing light. That made it the one against them all, unless others came. Calem doubted it, as this place wasn't strong in death and it must have taken quite a lot of energy for the pair to appear here.

    Angered, the corrupt Asari threw his dagger at Calem, only for him to warp out of it and Percival to deflect it back into him. The Aegislash took a nick to his blade doing that, but he was determined to be at his best. Then the freed Asari cast Thunder Wave on the other before coming over to Calem. “You cannot take the life of one who does not live,” the ghost said. “You can destroy this one without inflicting the curse on yourself. Cut off his connection too, then break the hateful aura that keeps him manifested.”

    “D-dirty traitor,” the corrupt Asari growled, trying to break the paralysis through willpower. “We should have known you wouldn't...” he cussed as the ghost hit him with another Thunder Wave, just in case.

    Hoping that was true, Calem trusted the ghost and cut through the other connection as well. Instead of turning into his former self, this one lost any recognizable human features to become an amorphous blob. He could more clearly sense the core of his cursed existence, almost like a heart hiding within ectoplasm. Calem didn't want to chance it, so he cast Shock Wave through his dagger. Shattering instantly, the Asari ghost faded into ashes, much like Eiota had.

    And there was no change to Calem, not that he could feel or see. No marks were growing on his skin and the anger at his victory felt distant. “Then I can defeat them,” Calem said to himself. He turned to his other ancestor, this one a man with green hair partly obscuring his face. “Thank you. You can rest now.”

    “No I can't,” the ghost said.

    “Is that you, Allan?” Heinrich asked.

    He nodded. “Right. There are things that the Asari minds know that you two can't, as you're not directly connected to the eldest. I wanted you to know of them, but I was connected and it was enough of a struggle to keep my treacherous thoughts to myself. One I've already told you, something I found out on accident. And for another thing, we can't read much of what Team Flare is doing here in Kalos.”

    “You can't?” Calem asked.

    “We couldn't tell much before because the eldest wasn't interested,” Heinrich said. “I would guess that changed after Lysandre awakened Yveltal?”

    “Not immediately but around then. I think Flare know about us; I’m not sure how, but their two bases of operations are screened so that they can't be sensed well.“ Allan bowed his head. “I would like to attempt to infiltrate their home base to help you, but I knew if I asked that of the eldest, he would force the information from me. However, I also knew that if I were to become disconnected, I would remain free to travel between this realm and the realm of spirits.”

    “That would be a big help, but how?” Calem asked. “Tymar faded almost as soon as I met him.”

    “Tymar was freed before Yveltal was captured,” Allan said. “And if Heinrich hadn't been turned into this Pokemon, he would have remained as a ghost too rather than being freed to rest. Zygarde was trying to tell you this. Because those two Pokemon have lived in this land for so long, their aura influences natural occurrences. Anywhere else in the world, a ghost only remains in extraordinary circumstances. Here and with Yveltal gone, the newly dead remain around even in ordinary deaths. There was nothing human left of the one I convinced to come with me; he had even lost his name in giving up his humanity. He turned to nothing.”

    “But those of you who have some light and humanity left will remain, even disconnected,” Calem said as he thought of it. “Although I haven't heard of a lot of ghostly disturbances.”

    “It’s been a low murmur so far,” he said. “But as their numbers swell the longer Yveltal is kept captive, the risk of the ghosts lashing out in their confusion or jealousy grows. You're still tied to the responsibilities of living, but I’m not. Thus there is nothing keeping me from...” he paused, a troubled look crossing his face. “Well, maybe one thing.”

    “What is it?” he asked.

    “Could I tell you my story?” he asked. “I can tell you some more about Tymar too, as I remember him well. I will always be one of the Asari; we all will be, but I don't want to pass on some day to just be a faceless person forgotten.”

    I couldn't deny him that, so I agreed and listened to him for the rest of that day. I've been writing down their stories too, the ones I know, although I don't know how much interest there is in getting all of them published. In case you're curious, Allan's father accepted their heritage wholeheartedly. He was reckless but the Asari spirits would always bail him out. That is, until Allan was born and the eldest did not care to save him from that recklessness as he had an heir.

    In being raised by his mother, Allan grew up to be a boy like myself, not wanting to join the Asari but trying to learn the powers without killing. He didn't have a lot of support like I have and his father's style of training was to endlessly harass and anger his son into using his powers without thoughts of morality. Allan quickly got fed up with that and hated his father most of all. Once he had the dagger as his first item, he destroyed his father's spirit in a rage exactly as he had told me to destroy the other corrupt Asari.

    Because he didn't receive the markings of the curse, Allan thought he'd beaten the system. But to punish him, the eldest Asari tapped into the quick temper that Allan's father had given him to make him kill his mother too. His despair at realizing that nearly led him to being consumed entirely by the curse. Thanks to a few people who dared to reach out to him, Allan started his struggle to keep his humanity. But he was always considered something of a traitor for destroying his father's spirit. After his death, the other Asari spirits put Allan through hellish torment until he began to act in line with the rest. He managed to keep that small light of his humanity, though; he told me that there were others still in the Asari family like that.
     
  20. Ysavvryl

    Ysavvryl Pokedex Researcher

    I didn't mean for Grant's gym to take that long, but I had a lot of fun writing it. Although, my updates may slow down for a little while. I've been sick again and my writing's slowed down a lot from normal.
     

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